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Francesco Merlini’s dreams, nightmares and defeated fears

Francesco Merlini Valparaiso5

Francesco Merlini is an Italian photographer based in Milan. Today he introduces to C41 his Valparaiso project. With slightly dark and gloomy traits, Merlini’s photography speaks of his home valley avoiding the classic documentary approach. He chooses to investigate and to portray the effects of the relationship between the landscape and its inhabitants: the dreams, nightmares and visions hidden in the darkness.

The darkness also appears to be the expedient for ensuring that the viewer stops and lingers for more than a moment in order to capture all the details that slowly resurface. The time spent staring at the images is dilated and we all become part of Merlini’s journey.         

Francesco Merlini says about himself:

“I was born in Aosta in 1986. After a bachelor’s degree in industrial design at the Politecnico University of Milan, I have devoted myself completely to photography. After covering Italian news, now I work mainly on personal long-term projects, reportages, corporate-works and editorials. In 2012, I have been published in the book ‘Mono vol. One’ alongside renowned photographers such as Roger Ballen, Daido Moriyama, Anders Petersen and Antoine D’Agata. I’ve been selected by the British Journal of Photography in order to be part of ‘The Talent Issue: Ones to Watch 2016’. 

My pictures have been published on international magazines and newspapers (Washington Post, Financial Times, Le Monde, L’Espresso, Corriere Della Sera, Wired Italy, Gq Italy, Die Welt, Internazionale, La Stampa, Rolling Stone Italy, D La Repubblica) and I exhibited worldwide in collective and solo exhibitions. I’m based in Milan.”

About ‘Valparaiso’:

For many years I have tried to narrate a valley where I was born and where I’ve spent a lot of time since when I was a child even if I grow up in a big city like Milano. This valley is a place that I loved and hated, a place I’m tied to by an emotional link that involves me, my father passed away when I was fifteen and my mother disappeared one year ago.

At a certain point, I decided to put aside any kind of documentary approach with the awareness that I have never been interested in the beauty of natural scenery or in the objective reality of this place. I was interested in giving a voice to a place that changes, protects and destroys people, through its existence in our lives.

In my work, memories of the time spent in this valley are mixed with dreams, nightmares and visions that my mind has set in this familiar and at the same time distant place, drawing on a sort of magical realism.

In a time where people look at photographs faster and faster, I decided to use a photographic language that would induce the observer to linger, to move closer and to squint in order to get used to the darkness of these iridescent images that conceal a personal journey towards the reckoning with this valley.

For many years I have tried to narrate the valley where I was born and where I’ve spent a lot of time since when I was a child, even if I grew up in a big city like Milano. Valparaiso is a place that I loved and hated, a place I’m tied to by an emotional link that involves me; my father passed away when I was fifteen and my mother disappeared one year ago.

At a certain point, I decided to put aside any kind of documentary approach with the awareness that I had never been interested in the beauty of natural scenery or in the objective reality of this place. I was interested in giving a voice to a place that changes, protects and destroys people, through its existence in our lives.

In my work, memories of the time spent in this valley are mixed with dreams, nightmares and visions that my mind has set in this familiar and at the same time distant place, drawing on a sort of magical realism.

In a time where people look at photographs constantly and without paying much attention, I decided to use a photographic language that would induce the observer to linger, to move closer and to squint in order to get used to the darkness of these iridescent images that conceal a personal journey towards the reckoning with this valley.

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Time to read
5 min
Words by
Staff
Published on
12 June 2019
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