Jacob Charles Wilson

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Luigi Ghirri: The Map and the Territory

for Paper Journal
A photograph of people looking at a map.
Diaframma 11, 1/125, luce naturale (1970-79)

The photographer Luigi Ghirri spent the boom years of 1960s Italy working as an architectural surveyor, mapping out plots of land for property developers. He began to read theory, and at the weekends he took small photographic walks around Modena, the city he knew so well. The land his photographs describe is one of the future and the past, wealth and poverty, the desirable and the real: of church and Coca Cola, of plastics, petrol, and potted plants. His mathematical mind gave him an eye for composition, for flatness and symmetry, and a desire to travel the world through maps and diagrams.

The work of the mapmaker and the work of the artist are not too different, both must interpret perception and abstract details in order to produce a better understanding of their subject; a different way of seeing things beyond the immediate and supposedly apparent.

The photobook review, Luigi Ghirri: The Map and the Territory, is up on Paper Journal.