Annalisa Sonzogni

An Innocent Witch

by Andrea Branzi

In Annalisa Sonzogni's photographs, night-time seems to be day-time and external spaces seem internal spaces.

As if the fundamental differences that organize our daily experience (night-day, outside-inside) have begun to disappear, under the glance of an innocent witch fluidifying all oppositions, overstepping the corners and creating a kind of perception of the city and of the world lacking in drama, plunged in a velvet-like cream, elegant and intermediate.

A cream with an ectoplasmic consistency without rippling, yet not too reassuring, since the glance that moves inside it seems to look for something that is not well defined. It is not the glance of realistic photographers nor the volumetric one of urban photographers; it appears more likely to be a way to look at the cities by someone who does not have any direction nor is searching for one.

Apparently the casual glance of someone who is not interested in the identity of places, nor in their significance, but in verifying whether that city corresponds to a prior innate idea, which anticipates any landscape knowledge and collocates it on a neutral scale, in-between dream and wake.

Today the role of photographers, if any, is to shift the audience's attention from photography to the photographer himself. That is to say from the object to the subject taking the snapshots. The photographer's purpose is to teach his public to watch beyond the single pictures. It is to show the reasons why they take photographs of familiar things and places, worn out by infinite previous looks and snapshots and yet so capable of conveying information and unique feelings.

There always is a discovery to be made, a level to investigate in order to disclose a hidden meaning, or better a general non-sense. If single significant images exist, then all the world is significant. But if insignificant images exist, then all the world is insignificant. Photographic images are indeed single molecules of a system that is identical to them.

It is not by coincidence that Annalisa Sonzogni's night photographies refer to Turin, Lyon and Prague, the three cities of the white magic triangle. Three cities so different from each other and yet almost interchangeable in the white night a bit disquieting, but lacking of the mystery that someone might expect.

Three normal cities that belong to a suspended world, where night=day, internal=external, as if white magic existed and, in its complete abnormal-normality, consisted of the fusion of known differences in a sole general semi-darkness.

I think that these photographies and what architecture plans nowadays are not very distant: shifty places, vanishing borders, invisible filters, crossable nets, something difficult to draw and to photograph; something belonging more to the world of semio-spheres than to the known shapes of cities.

This extreme border may already exist: where architecture searches for its feeblest and most dispersed dimension, which does not identify anymore with single buildings or with the landscape of what has already been built, but with an enzymatic territory where everything is transformed and fused without changing its shape. These photographs partially demonstrate its existence. The expressionless normality of this magic coincides with these three cities' landscape, three cities that are exactly the same as any other city. All of them plunged in a universal aquarium, in a tepid broth that only photographers can teach us to see.

Alight windows, opened in the night on empty rooms, the useless repetition of old and new architectural volumes, some cathodic TV reflexes in deserted flats, witness a general fall of meaning in our cities, which are silently shifting from being functional and specialized organisms to catatonic matrixes, without any function because without destiny. In Macchine Celibi (Celibate Machines) images are never close to Surrealism, they do not want to convey hidden meanings; on the contrary, they are always on the threshold of what can be seen (and only what can be seen), so to convey its high-level innocence. Without any drama, without any metaphors, without any contrast. Just photographs.

I have always thought that nowadays the real tragedy is the disappearance of tragedy itself, as a recognisable expressive category. With the disappearance of metaphysics, tragedy cannot recognise itself in ragged clothes or in masks deformed by anguish. On the contrary it completely adheres to reality and can be represented just through photography; a cold, useless and objective means that does not allow any symbolic meaning or any preventive moves to avoid it.

Thus, differing from the urban pictures loved by 20th Century architects, full of contrasts and perspectives, these shifting photographs belong to the 21st Century and to its slow and silent mutations, that do not produce earthquakes, but almost invisible bradyseisms. They do not follow a clear track because they belong to our civilisation of gloom.