On May 3rd Asinara, a photographic exhibition by Marco Delogu, launched in the Photographic Collection of the Warburg Institute. Bill Sherman (Director of the Warburg Institute), Marco Delogu (the photographer) and Paul Taylor (Curator of the Photographic Collection) welcomed the many attendees over a glass of wine and Twiglets.

Marco Delogu, who is not only a renowned photographer but also the Director of the Italian Institute of Culture and an ‘old friend’ of the Warburg Institute, took the suggestive photographs in August 2017 when he first visited the island accompanied by his partner and his one-year-old son.

Asinara is a small island off the coast of Sardinia characterised by wild and uncontaminated nature, and with a dark and painful past. In fact, Asinara was previously a prison camp, a penal colony, an agricultural colony and a lazaretto.

At the exhibition launch, Delogu described how he took the majority of the photographs during the night or the early hours of the morning as a way to quell the anxiety that pervaded him once he set foot on the island.

Delogu has described the atmosphere on the island as “luminous darkness”, referring to both the light cast by the full moon and the island’s dark past. Through these hauntingly beautiful photographs the ruins of the old buildings that still populate Asinara suggest the possibility of a new beginning and effectively convey the beauty of the natural landscape. The photographs were all taken without a tripod, which gives them an evocative blurriness, because Delogu wanted to photograph in full freedom, without restrictions.

The exhibition was also complemented by a breakfast seminar on May 18th – with delicious cakes, biscuits and coffee – led by Marco Delogu and Bill Sherman. Delogu spoke about what inspired him to undertake this photographic project and why he chose to show his photographs at the Warburg Institute. In particular, he said that the hanging of some of the photographs in the Photographic Collection was a subtle homage to Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas. Delogu also presented the upcoming project ‘Le Giornate della Fotografia all’Asinara’ (21-24 June 2018), a four day residency on the island, also comprises lessons, meetings and talks, during which groups of selected students, teachers, artists and cultural operators will confront themselves with key photographic themes in the uncontaminated nature of Asinara.

It has been a pleasure to host this exhibition in the Photographic Collection, many curious visitors have come in to admire the seventeen photographs on display. Delogu’s photographs focus on a place of isolation, however in this exhibition they have been in a silent yet strong dialogue with the 400,000 photos of the Photographic Collection. Exhibiting the Asinara photographs in a wonderful space such as this has been particularly effective as it enhanced the viewers’ experience by giving them the possibility to study and admire the artworks from a number of different angles and perspectives.

– Submitted by Lorenza Gay

Lorenza Gay is a continuing MPhil/PhD student at the Warburg Institute. Her research focusses on the depiction of pagan gods in French illuminated manuscripts in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 

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