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Usually when photographers decide to tackle the milieu of shopping centers and suburban culture, we’re presented with shelves stocked into oblivion, crying babies on leashes, and the trunk of the 2003 Town & Country so stuffed that it refuses to close.
But instead of condemning consumerism and focusing on the earthly insides of these spaces, Valerio Platania remains at the confines, presenting a more formal study of not only the architecture of the spaces themselves, but of the strange and otherworldly nature of their existence.
Though Base was shot at the fringes of different superstores in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, this work is anything but documentary. None of the photos have a given location, and are instead categorized into 5 chapters, all with titles relating to space exploration, colonization, and survival science.
What results are images that seem like our earth relocated, a planetary base existing somewhere in the emptiness of the universe with only an eerie similarity of the home we used to know. The compositions are vibrant and engaging, but somehow still desolate. Shapes and colors work together to bring otherwise mundane scenes to life, architecture seems foreign, and the base of a light post becomes the tails of a rocket while the stormy earth sky looms like launch smoke.
Humans are also rarely included in the series, but when they are, they make only the vastness even more obvious. Men shopping with their babies becomes lone explorers looking off into the distance, their hands shielding their eyes from a sun that seems to be stronger than our own.
Platania perfectly captures the strange, surreal nature of these strip malls. Their off-kilter decorations, their stockpiles, and the alien feeling that surrounds them, floating forever in the middle of nowhere.
Valerio Platania was born in 1981 in Italy, and works both as a photographer and engineer. He completed his Masters in photography at LENS School of Visual Art, and his artistic work became known to a larger public through his first photobook, BASE (2014).
To view more or Valerio’s work, please visit his website.
Review by Taylor Kigar
Title : “Base”, 2014
Size : 31 x 23 cm
Page Count : 64 Pages
Edition : 700 copies, signed
ISBN : 978-84-616-7257-8