New York has been the starting point, the place where Giovanni Del Brenna realized that the photographs taken in the Big Apple could have been taken in other big cities where he had lived or had visited. Saskia Sassen calls them “Global Cities”.
Giovanni Del Brenna follows the trail of those cities, Tokyo, London, Milan, Berlin, Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Singapore, looking for a defined and definable place just to find out that, probably, such a place does not exist. And realize that All the cities are part of the same puzzle…The cities look more like each other than the country they belong to.
As Marc Augé wrote in the afterword of the book Ibidem, published in 2014, The paradox and the challenge of Giovanni Del Brenna are twofold: to travel the world in order to find the opposite of diversity, to illustrate solitude and isolation and share their manifestations with others.
The photographer himself says My friends are scattered everywhere. Everywhere I go someone houses me. In big cities I feel at home, but it is never home.
Augé continues This is a fruitful contradiction; it is that of any artistic initiative. The visible recurrences of the world are those the eye captures, and the eye itself must have witnesses.
Giovanni Del Brenna was born in Genoa where he has never lived, he has been travelling the world following his parents since he was a child, Carol Naggar says that he is A stranger both by destiny and by choice, this photographer does not have a country of birth, nor a place he calls his own. He does not belong, nor does he know how to belong. A sorrow maybe, but also an instrument—lucid, ironic, emotional— that sharpens his vision.
Del Brenna calls himself a memory collector. He moves in the urban space and gathers memories together.
The books painted in black and white clash with the red walls and the velvet of the armchairs, the grey pile of newspapers stacked on the desk, the computer and the anonymous office are brightened by blinding sunlight; the mermaid woman inside the a fish tank is ignored by the man who is smoking and not paying attention to her; the Japanese style little lake is captured from the window of a building.
None of the images have a specific geographical connotation, Del Brenna’s eyes focus on portions of reality deliberately isolated from their environment: the glimpse of the underground car park, the detail of a takeaway coffee, the model aeroplane.
The metropolis he has passed through have transformed and keep on transforming, they become more and more uniform because of the arrival of something that belongs to every place and no place at the same time. They lose their uniqueness and turn into non-places, but as Augè writes Places and non-places do not exist as an absolute concept. The places of someone can be the non-places of someone else and the opposite way around. In this continuos cross-reference between spaces, the object of Giovanni Del Brenna’s research is the solitude of the world or his own solitude? The two are certainly not in opposition one to the other, and we understand what in the spectacle of today’s world fascinates the artist and holds his attention. Lost in translation: we return to the initial paradox; we feel close to those who express our isolation so well, and as a result it’s as if we were slightly less solitary – slightly more connected to others?
Number of photographs: 14 color photographs
Size: 30 x 40 cm
Type of prints: ink-jet • 305 g Hahnemühle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth cotton paper
Frames: black wood • 40 x 50 cm
Photographs by Giovanni Del Brenna
Texts by Marc Augé and Carole Naggar
English / French / Italian
Giovanni Del Brenna was born in Genoa in 1974. He grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he attended French school. He later moved to Milan, Italy, and graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the Politecnico di Milano. He decided then to follow his first passion: photography.
He graduated in 2002 from the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism Program of the International Center of Photography of New York, joined Grazia Neri Agency the same year and assisted James Nachtwey until March 2004. His work has been exhibited in New York, Milan and Lisbon and Metz, and has been published in Le Monde, New York Times, GQ Italia, Condenast Traveller Italia, Vanity Fair Italia, IL, Amica, Geo and Stern among other publications.
In June 2006 Hermès Italy commissioned him the photos for the book “L’aria di Firenze”, and in 2011 EDF assigned him to photograph power-plants in Lorraine for the book “En Produisant par la Lorraine”. He has been nominated New Photographer 2007 for advertisement by Getty Images.
In July 2014, he published his book Ibidem, a project on cities that he started in 2002. Since 2017 he has been researching the phenomena of urban agricolture.