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Massimo Vitali: Photographs 1995-2005
Massimo Vitali

Massimo Vitali is known for photographing crowded landscapes of leisure, of play, of the good life as acted out by Westerners, but these crowded spaces are disquieting, almost menacing. There's a certain familiarity to the photographs. They seem like documentation of built works, successful projects at that for they are actually filled with people doing what these spaces were designed to accommodate. (How often have we seen images of built works completely devoid of their intended user, i.e. raison d'être, as if they were never meant to be inhabited?)

Yet Vitali's landscapes seem quite close to complete systematic failure. One or two more skiers and perhaps an avalanche might be triggered. One more family of sunbathers at the beach and a riot might ensue over sand and sky; there can be too little of them I suppose. Add one more reveler to the concert hall and voila, structural collapse. I've always thought that just a single person can ruin my view down an allée. What's an allée for if a picnicking couple blocks your view towards infinity?

Now here's a studio problem: how would one design a landscape intended for critical failure? One designs to cope with 100-year floods. But how do you program a (public?) space that's open to catastrophic structural breakdown (without killing people, of course)?

Massimo Vitali: Photographs 1995-2005 runs through 8 October 2005 at Lentos Art Museum in Linz, Austria.

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