Responsive Spaces

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, presents a previously unseen collection of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s (b. 1948) recent photography. Curated by Filippo Maggia and Irene Calderoni, Le Notti Bianche focuses on the history of Italian theatre whilst highlighting Sugimoto’s avid interest in the relationship between time and space.

After tracing the evolution of the film space across the US, from the art-deco buildings to the less elegant drive-ins, this new collection solely depicts Italian cinemas. The hallucinatory pictures trace an extensive range of theatres through 20 unseen photographs taken over the past three years. Whilst building on the themes explored in his previous work Theatres, the Japanese practitioner now includes the spectators in the auditorium where the shoots are organised.

The Theatres series began in 1978 and has since gained acclaim for its experimental effort to capture the passing of time in photography. Using a long exposure and a slow shutter speed, the images freeze an entire feature-length film in a single shot – a technique also employed in Le Notti Bianche. The cinema screens irradiate the surroundings, drawing the eye to the centre in a similar fashion to an audience. Yet despite the luminosity, the white film-projections also appear void-like, forming an eerie emptiness in the middle of a vacant building.

Surreal yet utterly realistic, it is difficult to define the atmosphere captured in the playhouses. The similar composition throughout both series provides an incredibly distinctive style and evokes a sense of longevity and renewal, as well as conceptual stasis. Through these projects, Sugimoto discovered that “different movies give different levels of brightness”, noting that optimistic films present a more vivid screen as opposed to tragic stories – adding to the enchanting nature of these arrangements. This recent portfolio delivers a different angle on a subject familiar to Sugimoto, yet promises to be just as enthralling.

Le Notti Bianche, 16 May – 1 October, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin. For more information: Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.

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1. Hiroshi Sugimoto, Le Notti Bianche (2017).Courtesy of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.