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The German noun Heimat has no exact equivalent in English. It is an oblique reference to the place where you were born, where you feel at home. It is a sort of emotional place where you belong, rather than any geographical space. Carlo Rusca’s work may be an example of Heimat. Just may. Because he calls it Turistica. Which is something else, something with other implications. Yet his refined black and white photographs, the details of a life that reflects on itself, point in a direction that speaks of the need to investigate one’s roots and the desire to recognize.
It all started in around 2010, when Carlo Rusca left Locarno, where he had lived since childhood, to go and study in Lugano. After school, he worked in Hamburg and then in Brazil. In 2016 the return to his homeland brought before him a reality he knew well but remembered differently. Places to which – by his own admission – he voluntarily and involuntarily felt deeply connected. He went back to living in the family home and faced the disorientation of dealing with the habits of a life he knew but no longer recognized. By now he had other memories, other experiences, and another lifestyle. Photography was to become the means to attempt his journey in search of possible roots, and to return to places that once had been familiar.
His insomnia was suited to nocturnal itineraries, and the monochrome of darkness to working in black and white, with a camera that still required the anachronism of film. Without a project, but simply the need to restore a balance that allowed dialogue between the past and the present. Vittorio Sereni’s poems led him to reflect on the perception of places, on the relationship between places and his own questioning. He recalls how his nighttime photography walks through Locarno, undertaken with the curiosity of a flâneur strolling among the traces of memory, had no particular objective. They were nothing more than a therapeutic, unavoidable appointment.
Over three years his images have reached what is called the long form project. The objective that had not been set has been achieved and all the work is subjected to a rigorous editing process. His images use a direct, descriptive and poetic language that forces us to ask questions, to share the emotions of others that we recognize as ours. Turistica has become a book that accompanies us on a journey to a private and peripheral Locarno, where nothing happens, where everything could happen and which may not even be Locarno. We are introduced to a sort of dream populated by the mist, unexpected animals, anonymous architecture, few friendly presences, and timeless objects. The refined and rarefied photography of Carlo Rusca works on memory and generates new memories. Which in turn create the possibility for the author and us, his readers, to recognize ourselves in a different, possible Heimat.
Witty Books, March 2020
Text by Giovanna Calvenzi
Design by Federico Barbon
17 x 24 cm, hard cover