Earlier in the year, Giuseppe Lo Schiavo won our Open Call – the final theme of our last edition – with his dreamlike alien form set against a stunning glacial landscape. Judge Brian Clamp, owner and founder of New York gallery ClampArt, praised it for the craft on show, describing it as ‘otherworldly’. Belatedly, we put some questions to Giuseppe and his answers were fascinating; jumping between his working process, how London might change outside the EU, his strengths and flaws, and how Italy can be described as a ‘lasagna of creativity’!
In your series ‘Wind Sculptures’ you capture human figures – gorgeous and ambiguous forms, against vast and dramatic landscapes. Can you tell us a little bit about the concept behind the work?
Wind Sculptures is an experimental series of photographs that depict unpredictable forms that resemble sculptures, created by the wind, that only the a high-speed camera can capture and keep forever. Under an emergency blanket, I am interacting with the wind in order to create dramatic and voluminous shapes in a performance with ever-changing results. It is a collaborative process between me and nature and that’s why I try to stage my photographs in uncontaminated, windy places all around Europe. I imagine this collaborative process as a way to create unpredictable forms of beauty. Beneath the foil, I feel like a rock, sculpted in an accelerated process by the wind and the water.
The process is interesting, and you’ve taken images all across Europe – Italy, France, Greece, the UK… Can you describe your method? What kind of research goes into the environments you choose, and how you then work once on-location? Is it a collaborative process, or do you act as both subject and photographer?
As a first step, I try to find inspiring and pristine places with notable windy spots. That’s why half of my series is taken in Iceland, a beautiful land where you can interact with the powerful wind generated from a waterfall or you can step on a glacier and be part of the spectacle.
I prepare the blanket before visiting the site, in my studio, combining around 8-10 blankets together in order to create a unique foil of approx. 30 square meters. I usually work with at least an assistant – I set the tripod with the camera on and then I go on stage with my blanket. There are cases though, where someone else is covered up with the blanket; in one example at Glacier Paradise, I was shooting at 2900m altitude in Switzerland during a snowstorm, and I couldn’t act both as subject and photographer. I had to be fast, so a friend of mine is under the blanket.
At Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland I risked my life by stepping on the very fragile iceberg platforms. The salty lagoon water was -10 degrees Celsius and the closest city was 7 hours driving away, but I was determined to shoot in this location. The entire experience was extraordinarily overwhelming, standing in the middle of a glacier surrounded by seals. There are experiences that you cannot miss in life and that was one of them for me.