Experimental - NOMINEE: Alfonso De Gregorio
Photo © Alfonso De Gregorio
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I have built a filter made of selenite – crystalline mineral gypsum – and used it to document the vestiges of the old town of Gessopalena (Italy), whose habitations are dug into the gypsum rock itself. Destroyed by a quake in 1933 and razed to the ground again in 1943 by the WWII, Gessopalena is also my hometown and a place from which I moved away. Like personal relationships, gypsum shows translucency, opacity, and color. As such, it becomes an allegory of the dealings, connections, and exchanges with locals and my family members.
Employing a selenite filter sabotages all optical properties of modern-day lenses. I do so on purpose and embrace the imperfections. I feel the blurry images coming out the selenite filter can establish a new dialogue with the town I come from. Literally taken from the territory being represented, I want the medium to speak about our common place of origin and its lost way of life.
The process was inspired by a geological feature of the territory. Known in the Ancient Rome as Terræ Gypsi, the town stands on a gypsum outcrop. The gypsum stone found there exhibits so obvious crystalline structure that the town was also known as Preta Lucente, or Shining Stone.
This body of work is printed on satin paper, to resemble the gypsum. Likewise, some prints have been toned in blue to reflect the feeling to the touch of such stone. Gypsum, in fact, has natural thermal insulating properties; and, as a result, all its varieties feel cold to the touch.
Alfonso de Gregorio is a European artist, globally recognised cybersecurity technologist, and hacker. De Gregorio's artistic work spans image-making, informatics, lectures, and engineering. In his practice, De Gregorio examines the aesthetics and politics of surveillance, traumatic memory, and sustainability. He has exhibited, spoken, and published internationally. De Gregorio's works have been shown in art and cultural spaces around the world, including leading museums, contemporary photography festivals, and international art biennials, such as Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize (National Portrait Gallery – London, 2000), FUTURE(S) (Belfast Photo Festival, 2021), COUNTERPARTS – PORTRAITS HELLERAU Photography Award (Museum of Science and Technology – Dresden, 2022), and CHAOS : CALM (Bangkok Art Biennale, 2022), among others.