urban & street photography

Once upon a time I wandered around the streets of cities with almost anthropological interest, I liked to stop aside and observe the unfolding of life, the people busy with their daily chores. Now, however, it all seems to me to be an enormous waste of time, a sadly ridiculous little theater, a play without a script, or rather the script is there, only that the actors don't know it, much less the authors. Life as they want us to spend it, the values in which they want us to believe, the dreams (or nightmares) and ideals (artifacts and deceptive) that are served to us, are now expired, reheated, spoiled, putrid and smelly dishes. The thing that disheartens me most is seeing how many people in good faith believe they are eating delicious delicacies, and if you point out the obvious mold, they even look at you badly! It's a game that I no longer like, perhaps I never liked it, I willingly distance myself from it, even if at a high cost.

Ever since I was a child I had the vague feeling of having come into this world by mistake, I went to kindergarten for two days, and for two days I sat in a corner crying, while my classmates played and laughed, then I didn't. I wanted to know more: I didn't want to go there, and I never went again.

On school trips, when we traveled by bus, I always had my forehead pressed to the window and I spent the whole time looking at the landscape out there, with curiosity, while the usual classmates made noise and played. I was never interested in their games, they didn't involve me, I simply found them useless. Over time I have not lost my curiosity for the world and the landscape, and the camera viewfinder has become my new window, from which I still look at the world today.

But if until a couple of years ago the urban jungle represented an interesting environment, even if always experienced with a certain detachment, today that detachment has become an abyss. In my youth, cities seemed to me more like desolate wastelands of concrete, squalid and inhospitable. Subsequently, I don't know for what reason, I began to like them, and for a few years I lived them with enthusiasm, then one day the pandemic arrived!

The lockdown was in some ways fascinating: the empty city had its own ghostly charm and it was nice to cycle around the deserted streets. But in the long run the mirror gradually became more and more desolating: a disarming and demeaning torture was inflicted on poor souls unaware of the script! At the first reopenings my heart lit up, I will always remember the feeling of beauty in seeing the first bar open, with people having coffee! Then the vaccine arrived, and with it the greenpass.... and the empire of evil revealed itself, threw off the mask, and human beings were divided: on one side those who decided to follow the light, the feeling of their own soul , the call of nature and freedom, those who preferred to remain intact and true to themselves; and on the other hand those who instead preferred to remain, more or less consciously, in the darkness and in the enclosure, and there were many of them! Since then the city and society for me have returned to being those places, physical and otherwise, inhospitable, cold, hostile, as I perceived them as a young man. A theater of clash between opposing forces, but not a neutral theater, but rather a theater built by the enemy, therefore with mechanisms specifically designed in his favor.

Places, habits, meetings, people, friendships, everything has lost meaning and interest for me. The city has returned to being a simple place of transit, to be frequented out of necessity, and to be crossed hastily, without hesitation, moving furtively like shadows in the night. It is a dangerous place, not so much for our physical safety, but for the safety of our souls.

... like furtive shadows in the night...

I have never loved photographing the negative aspects that surround me, so I don't like photojournalism, reportage, reporting photography and so on, so for now the city is unlikely to be one of my subjects again, except for some particular aspects, for example example where life and nature tend to manifest themselves courageously, or where restless souls manifest vital tremors and tremors, we don't know whether out of pride or agony!

If the enemy wants a war, let it be a war! Spiritual of course, at least as far as I'm concerned. A war of resistance and tenacity, a war fought with the weapons of beauty, of Nature, of the inviolability of the soul.

Until some time ago I wrote the following words, in which I now barely recognize myself. But life is made up of periods, of seasons, and each has its meaning and its value, therefore it seems right to me not to cancel them completely, and to leave them as evidence of the change that has occurred, be it evolution or involution. I never deny my experiences and my "mistakes", on the contrary I treasure them. Priceless.

I tend to be rather wild, so the city is certainly not my ideal habitat, even if I work there and all in all I always like to understand it, it's an anthropological curiosity more than anything else. Its fauna is also interesting, if looked at from a certain distance, as is done as a precaution with wild animals. I am fortunate to inhabit a "borderland", somewhere in between, close enough to the city, but equally close enough to the wilderness, to allow me the freedom to escape in either direction as needed.

The city is a sort of asphalt jungle, a similarity that is now banal but still effective, but unlike the natural jungle, in which you can find yourself through contact with Nature and you can free yourself, in every sense, physically and mentally, from stress and anxieties, in the urban jungle you risk getting lost among stress and anxieties, and you certainly poison yourself, both in body and soul, at least as far as my personal way of being is concerned, but I admit that I have a very particular. After all, these are the usual banalities that are said about city life, even if I experience them deeply firsthand.

The city can be very beautiful, seductive, colourful, exciting and fun, but it must be taken in small doses, and you must always keep an escape route close at hand. It is a territory of contrasts, even very strong ones, after all Nature also presents us with equally strong contrasts, but while Mother Nature wants us naked in front of her (and this is one of the reasons why the nude in photography fascinates me and in art, the nude is spiritually similar to the true and the sincere, to human miseries and greatness, this being capable of stretching to the point of tearing itself apart between opposing tendencies, between heaven and hell), that is, we cannot pretend to be different from who we are, in the city we can instead play a role, hide, and create in a certain sense a tailor-made reality, however fictitious, which can lead us adrift, making us live a fake life, and this is what I mean by "getting lost". ".

Nature has its laws, which however cruel they may appear, are cosmic laws that perpetuate life through harmony and cyclicality, therefore even what might seem "evil" in Nature is a necessary condition for generating good. In the city, however, exclusively human laws apply, the intent could be to build an ideal world that tends towards good, but any of you can testify that life in the city is not exactly that idyllic, and "evil" in all its thousand shades , it is "humanly" an end in itself, unnecessary, avoidable, therefore it is just bad, without any justification.

But let's now put aside these meta-philosophical considerations, which have little to do with the photographic nature of these pages: to talk about the city in a positive way, I take inspiration from my daily experience and my way of moving in it.

The city experienced by car is an infernal jungle, but experienced on foot or by bicycle, it takes on a completely different aspect. Without parking problems, restricted traffic zones, traffic jams, deafening horns and people gesticulating wildly invoking all the gods of Olympus, without all this, the city takes on a more human, quieter, more relaxed appearance, with a certain flavor of freedom and taste of discovery.

By moving naturally, by bicycle, you can observe many more things, and therefore discover many more things, such as interesting views, particular shops, you can come across an unknown market, a small street show, an unexpected exhibition , or meeting a friendly face or encountering an unknown smile.

In fact, for several years now I have abandoned the car to go to work, I reach the city by train from my town, and then I get around by bike, and I guarantee you that it's a completely different life! Even the time spent commuting from home to work is no longer wasted life time, but acquires a new meaning, if nothing else it constitutes good daily physical training, but also good mental and character training. By stopping almost every day in shops, on stalls or in small supermarkets to get what I need, I no longer even have the need to go shopping at the weekend, as I take what I need in dribs and drabs at the moment, as it takes I pass in front anyway; the same goes for small daily chores, like paying a bill. This way free time is truly free. In this way, even in everyday life I have created small spaces for myself to dedicate to reading, which is always useful and welcome, or to photography.

It has always been a contradictory feeling that binds me to the city and to human society in general: on the one hand I escape it, feeling it hostile, it is not my environment and I cannot stay there for too long ignoring the powerful call of mother Nature, D On the other hand, in some ways the city fascinates me, intrigues me and fascinates me, but they are mostly short, fleeting incursions.

>>> The Aimless Traveler <<<

Free Wild Spirit - You will never have me - by Andrea Franchi - all rights reserved