“An image is something magical; in a certain sense a photo shoot or a fashion show are magic.” Claudia Pasanisi is talking to me as we walk along the corridors of Palazzo Pitti one hot morning in mid-June. Her eyes are never still, observing, scouring, examining every single detail around her. That evanescent moment that most people never see, but which is starkly clear to her.
And looking at the photos that she took at the Pitti Uomo events, through collaboration between Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery and nineteensixtyeight—the platform dedicated to contemporary photography that promotes the new talents, encouraging experimentation in curatorship—it is precisely the moment that emerges, in all its naturalness, in its powerful entity.
A unique way of relating to the subject/object that has characterised her work since her debut in Milan as an assistant photographer, after studying architecture. Not a question of wearing, but the movement, vibration, chemical reaction between the clothes and the person. Between being and appearing. Impressed onto film, which is her favourite medium, or digitally, as a habit.
Having worked for important fashion brands in Italy and the United Kingdom, where she lived for years, Pasanisi has established herself as a talented portrait photographer. Her lyrical photos naturally team classicism and contemporaneity. Her personal and editorial work, mainly shot on film, is characterised by a timeless elegance that elevates the subjects and scenes she immortalises. Her portraits of men and women, whether nudes or flaunting an elaborate outfit, transmit delicacy, feminine grace, and are never vulgar or out of place. An intimate sensuality that is reflected in each shot.
“At Pitti Uomo, I overturned the idea of the model wearing the clothes. I broke the mould. It is the clothes that are free, even if someone is wearing them; they take on dimension and force.” Oscillating colours, fluctuating lights and movements that breathe life and feeling into the clothes themselves. “I wanted to test myself with something that was new for me, somehow different and romantic.” And her impressionist style leads to 3D, sculpted photos. Fashion for Pasanisi.
“It is what happened with Off-White, for example: it was all poetic, this enormous square, darkness, lights and videos on the huge walls of Palazzo Pitti. The models looked like apparitions; I tried to show all this by breaking up the human figure and looking for the movement in the clothes. As if they left a sort of wake behind them, in the fleetingness of time. But also with Yoshio Kubo’s show, there was so much energy on that runway, that it vibrated and reverberated through the clothes. Then there was the romance of the fashion show by JW Anderson.”
“I always try to extract beauty from anything, even where there is no apparently visible beauty.” Like the Chidro series, one of her latest projects outside the world of fashion, inspired by a place in Southern Italy that is very dear to her. “It is a river where adolescent like to jump in, at times even risking their lives. It is somewhere I am particularly close to. I do not think I would have photographed those kids if there had not been something in each of them that is also inside me,” says Pasanisi. “The freedom in their eyes blew me away. And the force of this sentiment that lends appeal to people who are neither glossy nor elegant, on the contrary, often very rough.”