African Object 2016

AFRICAN OBJECTS is a collection of photographic works by Antonio Theo Pini. It’s the investigation/research of a socioeconomic microcosm started by the experience in a centre of welcome refugee in Livorno Italy  and ended up between the shelves of some Chinese shops in search of useless objects. A visual project that from the beginning till the end waves between the truth and the probability, the reality and the fiction and thus the imaginable and the unpredictable. Within this process the technical boundaries and gender differences between documentary photography, landscape and still life eventually fade away in the chromatic affinities, submit to the evocative power and evocative images.The documentation, the reportage are not the priority of this work, it seems more like a pretext, a means to reach and to end different from the chronicle. Yet the images of the welcome centre are an updated document devoid of malice, of aesthetic devices, of intellectualistic forcing. Nothing is wanted in advance, order and disorder, joy and sadness, the presence or absence of the human being. Never a pose: the boy, with the phone in hands, lying on the bed seems to look into but actually staring into space thinking about what he should write in his message.You could doubt that the people photographed are actually actors paid by day to play the role of refugees: then a set-up intentionally handled in all its essentials details , mischievous, aesthetic and intellectual.
Who can say?
The ninety-four photographies creating this collection are linked together with another smaller one by visual expedients, sometimes they are obvious other they are almost imperceptible, in need of a dilated reading time: the image of a horizon is compared to that of a perfume bottle for men which essence takes up the greenish color of the sea. A lighter decorated with the image of a girl in Stars and Stripes bikini, above a photograph of a room where two boys are resting: among the things in the room there is also a folded object, maybe a hat with the American flag. Objects exist beyond the convenience and practical sense. This is what is perceived from entering any caucasian house. The expectation of the superfluous is never disappointed. The superfluous has become a matter of identity, exclusive of the west. Racism is inherent in the claim to determine what a person may or may not have, depending on their social belonging. Racism has determined that a refugee has the right to be superfluous, especially superfluous technology, what we surround ourselves with on a daily basis.
The objects in this photographic series questioning this prejudice and they do so through deception, insinuating the worm of doubt. We have to abandon the plausible and relying on the paradox, to accept the presence of a spray from the garden, a pig piggy bank, or a hot water bottle in the shape of the breast between the objects in the backpack or in the room of these people. Yet no one could exclude a priori the possibility, albeit extraordinary, that an eritrean, at the time of leaving their village or in their city to come in Italy, decides to bring a light from the bedside table in the shape of a christmas tree or a diffuser of sound bluetooth. Just as no one could exclude with absolute certainty that the horizons marine featured in this series have been captured in Tripoli, Benghazi, or the island of Lampedusa instead of on the seafront in a quiet town in the north of Italy. Because a horizon without a boat is as good as another.