I walked and touched 
that feeling of flying 
over the fears that afflict stability
several times
I turned in a circle
looking at the monster from above

Preceded by these lines, a self-portrait opens <stargate>

As an introspective work, made up of suggestions through what is seen as an imaginary path within the human soul, <stargate> is an exploration of a territory that evolves in itself and where kind of feelings take shape in the objects put together to find an harmony due to the pursuit of balance. The balance that sometimes has to face fears, insecurities, discomfort and bounderies to be set up.

This visual journey is the result of a constant personal research driven by an experience that concerns me deeply: the Camino to Santiago. In 2016 I took my “first steps” on the French Route. From then on, my life has began to take on another form.

Camino Frances, 2016

Known as a journey of life, on the Camino the everyday experiences happen in a different form conveyed by living in the present and, as much as in the everyday life, there are moments of ups and downs along uphill and downhill paths. The past and the future are less predominante. Time is expanded. It runs only in the form of early and late present within the days. This is how I like understanding the parts of the daily floating time that seems to be constantly remarked by events to compose a chain you can’t not consider as product of moments that come in succession. Sons of a still developing present.

You are just there to live all that and nothing else. From a day to another there is something I define like a gap that not allow you to clearly get or remember what the day before was or what in the day before happened. The constant stimulation of living in the moment put you in a far position from the past that loses its location in the time.

What I like metaphorically associate to the past is the backpack. Its weight is on our shoulders and can get heavier and heavier if we not decide to get rid off useless stuff that eventually we consider of vital importance and brought till there. That backpack, or the past, is also filled with the lived experiences. We need them because we are simply them. They can become uncomfortable sometimes, but are supposed to give us a better understanding and awareness of how they work on our daily moving. The Camino helps us to better recognize which of them we don’t need to carry on. There is also another aspect I like about the consideration of the past on the Camino that for me can be a teaching for the daily life . It’s about physically turning to look back, behind you. It’s something you hardly ever do. That means you don’t care of what happened on your way back because you are only there, looking in front of you and enjoying what is happening all around, in your body and out of it. On the path, the past put pieces of the whole present puzzle built step by step.

At the Ave Felix hostel after a long walking day. Camino Frances, 2016

Talking about future? Well, you don’t have much programs apart from walking, walking and walking. So, why thinking of it?

Going back to the figurative aspects of the backpack, important presence in our long distance walks, I cannot leave out the idea of what it can bring inside: remorse, regrets, frustrations, failures, defeats, angular shades of the ego which become ballasts. Along the way, you find yourself spilling the beans, not without difficulties and challenges with yourself and with what you are surrounded by and immersed in nature and weather, that can often be the worst enemies. Desolate places enveloped by lashing winds put a strain on the spirit that must be ready to face and fight futile and hindering resentments. Things clutter up the soul. Along the Way, the inner transformation is not immediate, but in doing so the backpack can get lighter.

Camino Primitivo, 2019

Thus the pilgrimage becomes a journey of man as a metaphor for life. Walking is the action that is not at all obvious that determines the activation of a communication with oneself, that puts before one’s limits, with fear and despair. Limits that can be crossed and exceeded in order to continue. This is where Stargate steps in.

So, In Stargate boundaries and fears are recognized to be turned in balance. A change that can lead to greater awareness. Everything becomes clearer. The spirit finds its balance.

From the ‘monster seen from above’ you go through the dark to return to the light and a series of self-portraits marks this passage, defined to depict a comparison and a progression between past and present. An inner journey that I define as a metamorphosis because this is how it happened inside myself, a transformation that elevated my life, my predominant mood, into a stable balance. An elevation of being in the presence of life itself.

The light outside is the calm of my wandering
My legs are only the means
The hands catch the breath
with the stability of the feet on the ground
My mind is the engine
The eyes my voice

“Stargate” was born following another photographic work also concerning the Camino de Santiago, started in 2019 on the primitive path, and which saw the integration of photographs taken in 2016 along the French path.

On la Ruta de los Hospitales. Camino Primitivo, 2019

In March 2020 I should have taken the Portuguese and English routes, but because of the Covid issue it was not possible. Along these other two paths I would have sought evocative suggestions in order to put an accent on the introspective aspect of the work.

The lockdown at that point was the reason why this search had to take place at home. To carry out this work, I had to develop an idea that could align with the Camino in a metaphorical way, through the creation of still-lifes that could refer to not only visual experiences, but also emotional.

In this regard, I also let myself be inspired by the works of Ingar Krauss. The installations took place inside a carton box, illuminating the scene with a torch, thus obtaining shadows and light effects.

In doing so, the carton box became a territory where I thought I could guide everything (the lights, the objects chosen), and instead it was the box itself that represented everything inside it in a transformation into living matter in front of the lens. I recognized steps, sensations, feelings encountered during the way. So, still life have become a sort of materialization of those feelings that are hidden in man during that path of spiritual growth. The box, somehow, was a space that elevated all this to the point of making it become a representation free from contexts and limits. An evocative and multiple interior space. From these last considerations the title of the work <stargate> came to life. A passage through that microcosm of emotions in which the human soul orbits and with which it evolves.

To give birth at this intense living matter, a part from an elevate dose of a feverish creativity mixed to a bit of healthy madness, there was the essential and indispensable collaboration with Tiziana, one of my best friend and author of those wonderful self-portrait, parts of the project. Her sensitivity, her emotional intelligence and her acute vision were also decisive in the final photographic and editorial choice of the self-produced book.

Tiziana and I worked hard on all this and incredibly made it in very few hours. We closed in the bedroom at home, set the work table with all the materials, put a music for the third eye on and, after making the deep dark inside it, started to compose the still-life using the torch to find the right way to express the deepest feeling of what I was looking for inside that carton box and inside of that juxtaposition of objects.

The time in the room seemed suspended in a wormhole dimension like there was no time and no space but just us making light in the dark of the box. That doing was immersive and put us in a condition to recognize some sort of feelings of the frightening beauty of the sublime that more often I discovered and seen on my camino. It was a moment so fertile to not brake the magic of what was happening in that room. We only stopped when we got exhausted and realized that outside the night had taken the place of the day. We had been there for more than four hours. Not being happy of what we had created, during that time we also tried some nude photography out using some still-life materials.

The experiment was repeated in the days after. On the forth day I had the project in my hand. We were able to pull out all the necessary to give the photography is material shape. We tried to do an editing soon and what we did after doing it was putting a song on which a care a lot about (Interstellar Main Theme by Hans Zimmer) and slowly fading within the images. The impact was incredible and an overwhelming feeling made our eyes shine and so we cried! We cried for what we were able to reach and feel with that photographs. There was something there bigger than we thought. There was all our inner reality and that strong determination to find the light where darkness sometimes dwells for a long time. We really saw what gives us the strength to stand up, go on and all the wish for making that possible. Of course what we cried for was also the effort we had done to give all that to life.

I will never forget what happened the following days at the shooting: three weeks of frenzy to turn this work in an object! It was October 2020, at the end of the two-year academic course of photography at Scuola Mohole, and I had to present this work as final personal project or thesis in a short limit of time. Its production was complex right from the start as thinking about of making it a living matter. From the looking for the right materials for making the book to the constant thinking of the sequence of the images, their size, the writings within the pages, the dialogue between the color of the pages, the procedure of cutting the paper, binding booklets and make them strong and consistent, it was a very stressful moment, starting from the early hours of the day. At breakfast there was me asking Tiziana always the same question: <Black and white, white and black or white and black, black and white?!> It was a sort of dilemma like the famous one “be or not to be”. Tiziana answer was always the same: <Enzo, please! 8 in the morning and my eyes are still glued, please!> and we laughed.

The anxiety level was very high but the time arrived and I was ready. SARGATE was ready…and Tiziana survived me, luckily! The dummy book was born and we were proud of what it has become!

Nature however alien
and insidious where everything is unknown
finds its own drawning
in the depths of the soul