Lorenzo Vitturi, Dalston Anatomy

JTF (just the facts): Published in 2013 by Jibijana Books and Self Publish Be Happy Editions (here). Hardcover, 168 pages, with 110 color photographs. Includes a text by Sam Berkson. (Spread and cover shots below.)

Comments/Context: If there is anyone out there who is still skeptical of the photobook revolution now taking place, I offer Lorenzo Vitturi’s Dalston Anatomy as a glorious example of the power of unabashed disruption. Bound in patterned African fabrics, bookended by bold endpapers, and interrupted by a poetic stream of consciousness essay printed in a massive point size, this book breaks all kinds of dull conventions of publishing and slaps us in the face with its frolicking jubilation. Stand quiet for a moment and you just might hear it shouting with glee amid the indistinct middle grey mumblers on your bookshelf.

Vitturi takes as his subject matter the melting pot of cultures found at the Ridley Road Market in London. It’s an indirect portrait, not of the usual cacophony of stalls and vendors, but of its component parts: tarps and packing wrap, hairstyles and faces, leftover debris and junk, and the exotic fruits and vegetables favored by various immigrant populations. In the face of the onslaught of homogenized gentrification, his book is like a valentine to vanishing diversity, a celebration of the joy to be found in clashing ideas and merging ethnic communities.

Photographically, Vitturi’s approach fits neatly into the new world of interdisciplinary practice, utilizing a variety of techniques with equal aplomb: straight photography, photographs used as foundation objects later decorated and rephotographed, and sculptural studio constructions made to be photographed. These methods allows him to employ varying degrees of layering and isolation. Flat still lifes and portraits focus our attention on the details of individual hairstyles, snippets of advertising, and the textures of draped stall architecture, while some of these faces are then remixed with collaged additions of dusty pigment, interrupting our view and twisting our perception into the third dimension. Vitturi’s studio constructions go further, towering with appealingly complicated implausibility, fruits and vegetables piled high in exotic unbalanced blends, bringing an earthy organic feel to concoctions reminiscent of Fischli/Weiss. The book mashes up these photographic approaches from spread to spread, bringing a lively rhythm to the sequencing, pairing visual likes and contrasts that mirror the richness of the market itself.

All of this innovative thinking is then amplified by Vitturi’s bold use of color. Primary colors explode from the pages with eye popping intensity, a brash kaleidoscope of electric orange, cotton candy pink, taxi cab yellow, and saturated fire engine red. In these images, color has a personality of its own, a vibrant irresistible heat that infuses everyday life. Even black, in the form of plastic garbage bags, rotten bananas, and the veil of a Muslim woman, has a thick visceral power. Vitturi exaggerates the color for effect, but with the kind of success that makes us look anew at the vibrancy of ordinary things.

What I like best about this book is that it is seductively overstuffed, an assault on the senses that mimics the feeling of a crowded, jostling, bustling marketplace. It encourages the viewer to look here and look there, to gather and combine, to layer and mix with creative, wild abandon.

Collector’s POV: Aside from an installation of Lorenzo Vitturi’s work in the Flowers Gallery booth at the most recent Paris Photo, the artist’s gallery representation remains unclear/unstated. As a result, for those collectors interested in following up, a direct connection to the artist via his website (linked above) seems like the best bet.

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