Martino Marangoni on his Alone Together project

In Florence where I grew up, the division of public and private space was definite. Actions and behaviors were not the same behind closed doors as they were outside in the piazza where everything was noticed and often commented on. When I moved to New York in the seventies, I was struck by how different the relationship among individuals in a public area was to what I had experienced. How indifferent people were to each other. For the first time I felt free from being judged, but also free to watch other people. It was there that I developed my passion for street photography.

For children it is natural to stare at other people, and so did I, until I was told that it was rude, I learned to be more discreet. I am still a people watcher and photography enables me to have a subject to look at, stare at, if you like. Pointing a finger and pointing a camera are related gestures, drawing the attention of others. I try not to be intrusive when taking photographs. I avoid eye contact to capture their states of mind, not their attention; the private inner expressions of individuals as they move/live in today’s often unfriendly public places. Often urban architecture today seems to have ignored the real “inner privacy” needs by creating spaces that are isolating, even menacing. The individual is ironically placed in a situation of being alone together. Photographing from a high vantage point allows me to discreetly observe without being intrusive.

The purpose of this project is to examine contemporary public spaces and capture the mood and psychological effect it has on the people.

These photographs are taken in Europe and America, in specific sites where the style of architecture is “global”. Through photographing in these large open public areas I have come to appreciate the beauty of many of these cathedral- like buildings, designed for maximum visibility and even transparency; the glass walls which separate public and private space have reduced our chances of privacy, taught us to ignore those around us and to expect to be left alone.

Join us for our Dialogue with Martino Marangoni Alone Together: A Florentine Photographer in New York on October 1 at 6:00pm at Villa Sassetti. RSVP to lapietra.dialogues@nyu.edu

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