The pilot episode of the Biennale di Senigallia took place in May 2019. This experimental project will become sustainable.
Indeed, it was in Senigallia that in the darkest years of the 20th century, in 1942, an intellectual who had deliberately deviated from the fascist elites, first formulated what may appear as a manifesto of European art after the war. Giuseppe Cavalli’s publication entitled “Otto fotografie italiani d’oggi » (Eight Italian Photographers Today) contains more images than texts, but prophesies that Europeans, reluctant to return to the forms of bourgeois art prevelant before 1914, and wishing just as much to distance themselves from the excessively political graphic agitation of the avant-garde, would now favor photography and cinema.
Giuseppe Cavalli pursued his reflection, distinguishing a little later the trends of neo-realism and photo-journalism from the more abstract research of metaphysical photography. He founded a school and was overtaken by a student, or rather by the student of one of his students, Mario Giacomelli, a child of Senigallia.
A well-known proverb states that no one is a prophet in his country, this is accepted by poets, scientists but also by artists. Giacomelli is a notable exception because today, at the beginning of the 21st century, the taste for photography has spread to all the families in the region. Member engage in the various practices of photography, alone or in one of the dozens of clubs, participate in numerous competitions, collect, and speculate on photographic prints. It is common to be offered a Giacomelli print on one of life’s great occasions.
It is within this framework and this environment that the Senigallia Biennale was organized, with exhibitions, a concert, a trade fair, publications and meetings attended by a distinguished delegation from the Paris Court of Appeal. Principals included :
Modérateur: Patrice Montico, Président Compagnie des experts de justice en Culture et Communication, Cour d’Appel de Paris
Jean-Louis Lagarde, avocat, Bruxelles, Les Controverses en photographie (Fr)
Myriam Quemener, avocat général près la Cour d’Appel de Paris. Le numérique et l’art, protection ou danger ? (Fr)
Yves Liverset, Hubert de Maximy, Emmanuelle Le Roy Poncet, Les droits d’auteur touchant à l’audiovisuel, Les droits d’auteur en Europe aujourd’hui
The audience also followed the investigations of journalist Vincent Noce devoted to some famous cases of forgery specific to the material nature of art in the period before the arrival of digital: the intervention of Paul Louis Roubert, president of the French Society of Photography on photographic melancholy, that of Marc Durand of the French National Archives on the Lumière brothers’ patents of invention.
In addition there were many Italian, English and German speakers. Finally, it should be noted that the exhibitions and the fair provided an opportunity to discuss many practical examples of materials analysis and the valuation of old prints.
The participants, exhibitors, visitors, collectors, journalists present agreed to continue or follow on with their friendly mutual encouragement, and this is how this experimental project will become sustainable. A partnership with the Quai Branly Museum will serve as the basis for the Senigallia Biennale on 11-13 June 2021, which will focus on the history of garden, rainforest and nature photography. Then, the 10-12 June 2023 Biennale will be devoted to political photography and the history of Russian (and Soviet) photography.
Discussions are underway for a Biennale of Chinese Photography on 8-10 June 2025.
The intervening years, that is even years, will allow encounters of a different nature around contemporary practices with festivals and workshops of old processes brought up to date. Practice helps the expert to assert his judgment.
This cross-programming makes it possible to propose a regular and pleasant appointment in this hospitable city every year in June.
In order to help the city build a heritage collection that can serve as a basis for a school and an academy of expertise, an auction will be held twice a year just before Christmas and during these June meetings, with a portion of the proceeds being dedicated for the benefit of the community. First auction will be on Saturday 7 December 2019, at San Rocco auditoriumon also on Drouot-live.
By an Italian twist, the politicians of this country have surprised the whole of Europe and the popular Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini is back. This is an English translation of a letter addressed to him by some residents of Senigallia:
You take bold initiatives, and get amazing results. We would like to submit to you a rather personal and very modest consideration that could perhaps add a drop of oil at a time of influenza.
Italy now represents what is called a destination with high cultural added value. And who is the traveller who does not want to take home a small souvenir? But cultural goods are banned from trade, certainly with good reason. The old books have all become suspicious with so many cases of forgery and theft that have been in the news. Unfortunately, our digital age has not yet found a way to replace the educational values of the old bibliophily. When princes collected incunabula pendants as typographers collected revolutionary brochures.
And yet there is something that human genius has invented, precisely to allow travellers to bring back a material memory in the midst of cold cuts and bottles of oil and wine: photographs.
The collection of photographs is the most beautiful of the collections,
– because if there is a strong idea behind the creation of a photograph, it is still there when the years are over, it is still there when its creator has disappeared,
– because an emotion caused by a photograph can equally capture people of extraordinarily diverse culture and condition,
– because the study of old draws is the best vaccine against the temptation of conspiracy among young minds,
– because the exchange between amateurs is a peaceful and democratic activity,
– because small markets and exchanges are an area of freedom that the largest sums of money cannot substitute
– because there is no more difficult material expertise than photography, but this difficulty gives rise to an unequalled wealth of reasoning.
A few years ago, you created a special commission on photography that had to face so many urgent problems. Commission that has taken the same route as so many other commissions in so many other countries. Contemporary art and the contemporary art market only favour Formula 1 teams and possibly a few hundred thousand photographers who scream louder than the others. With only 1% of your ministry’s resources you could tolerate and allow a stubborn little idea to flourish. To paraphrase Mario Giacomelli: “La fotografia aveva i tuoi occhi”, the photograph had your eyes.
Pre-digital photography prepares us all for a world that is far too connected. The study of old photographs could become a subject in school, at all ages could be made workshops from the photographs found in families’ attics. The photographic collection could promote tourism if the administration allows the ownership and trade of old photographs, in any case of a value of less than 10,000 euros. The control of the circulation of works of art becomes more coherent and justifiable if the free circulation of their photographic images is allowed. The city of Senigallia in Les Marches has been the laboratory for many photography initiatives since 1942 and it is there again in 2019 that interesting proposals are emerging.”
All amateurs, experts and readers are welcome to come and participate in the next meetings by proposing an exhibition or conference.
See you soon