At 6.30 p.m. on Friday, 12 May 2017, the Spazio Damiani will be inaugurating an exhibition entitled The City is a Novel, showcasing the work of photographer Alexey Titarenko. The exhibition presents about twenty works by the artist produced in three different cities: Venice, New York and St. Petersburg, his home town.
The city is thus an undisputed exponent in Titarenko’s photographic research, and its varying expressions become metaphors to illustrate different conditions of human life. Venice, New York and St. Petersburg are the entities through which Titarenko tells his story, one imbued with a refined literary culture cultivated from childhood through the writings of Chekhov, Dostoyevsky and many other authors. This has given form to a visual display that does not seek to fix an urban scene or, conversely, capture its movement: Titarenko’s intent is to let the city speak, to leave it free to tell its own stories, thus blurring the boundary between depiction and reality. In this way, urban scenes find space in his photographs in which the sharpness of some elements combine with blurred details obtained through prolonged exposure times: people on the move, cars, but also meteorological elements go to form tableaux vivants with a strong narrative flavour. Time and its passing are the focus of the novel Titarenko wishes to talk about.
Each city is an important hub in Titarenko’s approach to photography. St. Petersburg is his home town, the one in which he developed his sensibility and which gave him a particular inclination for dreamlike depictions. For Venice, he adopted a similar approach: with its myriad reflections of water and rarefied atmosphere, it offered the artist the widest range of light and shadow to test himself. New York, finally, is the city that welcomed him and in which he found the most contemporary version of the stories he likes to tell.
All the photographs in the exhibition, square in format and of a medium and small size, are printed in black and white on silver gelatin paper. The process Titarenko adopts to arrive at the final result, however, is more complex because it includes toning applied by brush in silver and sepia, and a selenium toner bath that confers brightness to whites and intensity to blacks and greys. In some cases, he completes the special printing process with a further toning in gold that gives the windows of the buildings photographed the typical luminosity of a sunset.
The City is a Novel is also the title of the book published by Damiani presenting the complete series taken in Venice, New York, St Petersburg and Havana.