documentary platform

Francesco Neri

Francesco Neri articulates his photographic research as a long-term investigative experiment on the portrait, inspired by the monumental undertaking of August Sander, who for years worked with the intent of constructing a visual atlas of social “types” of the German people. Sander is a model of reference also for his exemplary practice of an “exact photography”, based on simple frontal shots, static poses, and clean and neutral results in every possible detail a maximum truthfulness to the real. In the best examples of documentary work, we find ourselves directly before the subject, without mediation, without medium.
The ever attentive eye of John Szarkowski recognized, in the process of producing certain photographs, a distance able to render the quality of the image identical to that of the subject.
Francesco Neri’s work seems to lead in this direction. It is the subject that we make out first because, despite the precisely constructed formal structure, he or she is always offered the possibility of “self-representation”. Aware of the potentially invasive violence of photography, Neri always searches for a point of meeting and exchange with the people who accept to pose… and wait. Inevitably, this unnatural immobility causes an interruption of contact between the subject and his or her real life, but this very a constraint is a condition of waiting the subject consciously assumes, almost with pride.
The very choice of the staged portrait may be read as an attempt to reestablish this connection. In the practical phases of the take, Neri in fact proceeds by searching out a setting that may contribute to the characterization of the chosen person a setting he or she normally encounters in the context of their daily life.
This first step consists in a careful study of the framing of the shot in the empty space. He then identifies the exact point to position the subject. The composition of the background therefore becomes as important as the human figure, also in merit of the extraordinary result obtained by the large format camera an instrument requiring patience and waiting.

Silvia Loddo

Neri’s Bio