Born in Umbria, a small district in Italy, Andrea Boccalini had been a journalist for more than a decade when he switched careers to pursue his passion as a professional photographer. He was thirty when he turned to reportage, working on several projects in Guatemala on child labor and the Campesino movements of resisting the exploitation of mineral resources. These projects resulted in an exhibition of his work for the “Onu dei giovani” in Terni, and to the publication “Conflictos mineros y pueblos indigenas en Guatemala” by Joris van de Sandt. He is also passionately involved with jazz and theater scene photography and portraiture.
Over the past four years, Boccalini has collaborated with national and international journals (The New York Times, New York Post, the Republic, JazzTimes, Downbeat, Jazz and many others) and has taken pictures of over a hundred Italian and international musicians appearing on CDs, etc. In the theater genre he’s worked with numerous directors and including Peter Stein on “The Demons.” And during the final phase of Leica Talent search, he was selected from more than 45,000 entrants, rekindling his passion for the reportage. Here is his remarkable first-person account of his Corviale project that appears in the latest issue of LFI, on sale now.
Q: Can you provide some background information on your LFI reportage? What inspired the idea? Overall, what were you trying to achieve?
A: This project was commissioned by LFI. Corviale, a building, stretching over a kilometer in length, is considered the longest building in Europe and about ten thousand people live there. For a long time it was considered the most dangerous district in Rome. Over the years there have been incredible urban legends regarding Corviale that have further negatively influenced the opinion of people. To be with and meet the people at Corviale was a fascinating journey first conditioned by my own prejudices but soon these were replaced by a different point of view. My concept evolved into telling about the people of Corviale, not through their anger but through the melancholy and humanity generated by the hard conditions of their lives. My approach is typically very instinctive and journalistic, but for Corviale I preferred to take a more emotional and engaged approach. My interest was to change the way people speak about Corviale and to put the inhabitants in the foreground and use the building as the background for telling their stories. Before Corviale I always favored black-and-white photography and I initially thought this would be the natural approach to take with this project. Only after I visited the building did I convince myself that color might reveal more about the district and the unique esthetic research of Architect Mario Fiorentino that, through an accurate prospective and chromatic study, intended to make visible the utopia behind the urban planning concept. Moreover, since I live in Rome, to tell about a reality that is just few minutes away from where you live inevitably makes you feel part of it.