Cross-Cultural Anxieties

Maurizio Anzeri makes his portraits by sewing directly into found vintage photographs. His embroidered patterns garnish the figures like elaborate costumes, but also suggest a psychological aura, as if revealing the person’s thoughts or feelings.

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The antique appearance of the photographs is often at odds with the sharp lines and silky shimmer of the threads. The combined media gives the effect of a dimension where history and future converge.

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Anzeri’s delicately stitches veil recasts the figure with an uncomfortable modesty, overlaying a past generation’s cross-cultural anxieties with an allusion to our own.

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“I’ve been collecting old photographs for a long time. A few years ago I was doing ink drawings with them and out of curiosity I stitched into one. I work a lot with threads and hand stitching, and the link to photography was a natural progression.”

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“I put tracing paper over the photo and draw on the face until it develops. Sometimes the image comes straight away, suggested by a detail on a dress or in the background, but with the majority of them I spend a lot of time drawing.”

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“Once the drawing is done, I pierce the photo with a set of needle-like tools I invented and take the paper away; the holes are obsessively paced at the same distance to convey an idea of geometry. When I begin the stitching something else happens, drawing will never do what thread will – the light changes, and at some points you can lose the face, and at others you can still see under it.”

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“Photographs from the 40s and 50s have a totally different quality from photos we’re used to today. We don’t recognise them as photographs now, they really look like watercolours or drawings. The images I use are anonymous, I find them everywhere; I’m really into flea markets and car boot sales, when you enter you have no idea what you’re going to encounter…”

http://www.maurizio-anzeri.co.uk/

 

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