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Gabriele Basilico: a Slow Gaze

I presented Gabriele Basilico’s last book, Lezioni di fotografia (Rizzoli, 2012), at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan at the end of 2012. Looking tired, but with all his lucidity intact, Basilico spoke about his photography, his choice of themes, his travels, his thirty-year career, and some of his most famous photographs. He also contributed his views on urban landscapes, and on photography as a daily habit and as a life choice.   I have never really believed that the photographic medium has its own specificity. Rather, as I have studied the endless variety of their characters, grammars, functions, vocabularies and themes, I have always seen in photographs as images a deeply uncanny element; in things portrayed are “as they are”, whether they are famous or anonymous, I sense a ghost-like quality, an unexpected hardness, an alien gaze can suddenly transfix me: the darker side of things revealed as a further possibility, a jetty from which to cast off.   In their apparent objectivity, their masterly teasing with metaphysical suspension, Gabriele Basilico’s photographs, in my view, express the turmoil of a sudden recognition – “this is it, it is here, it is this place” – at the...