Visual artist Alexander Basile and ArtyFarty Gallery present The Substitution, a year-long exhibition series highlighting four new and thought-provoking developments upon the fringes of the photographic arts, and Zombietown by Ale Formenti. Accompanying presentations and lectures probe into questions about realities, visualization techniques, exhibition situations, and the mechanically-produced image as such – The Substitution aims to show that non-mainstream photography is a whole lot more than documentary-style party pics and large-format snapshots.
Ale Formenti (*1976) grew up in a small town in Northern Italy and first picked up a camera at the tender age of 13. Ever since the 1990s, he has been photographing small-town life. He was even editor of photography for a skateboarding magazine for a while. Today, Formenti continues to live off the beaten path between Como and Milan, in that small town that he knows so well. The one he calls “Zombietown.”
“If you want to have a good time…don’t call me…” is what Formenti once said. Indeed, his rough style of photography has nothing to do with the Italy that most people are familiar with – carefree and plasticine. A place where political and social reality is blended into the background. Formenti’s images of the Italian underground, what Formenti calls a “grey area”, are brutally honest. His atypical motifs provoke as much as they disturb.
As part of the ArtyFarty Gallery exhibition series “The Substitution,” Formenti presents his photo collection ZOMBIETOWN. A haunting conglomerate of portraits, infamous scenes, pictures of racism, and even Berlusconi propaganda.
When Formenti refers to his subjects as “zombies,” he doesn’t mean fake, comic-book pushovers. Formenti’s zombies are the real, shadowy figures of a nation entirely blinded by the media. And because Formenti is able to capture the essence of these figures in an astoundingly clear and unambiguous way and present the shady side of Italy that has long been disregarded, his work can best be described in one word: progressive.
“Zombietown is 20 kms far from Milano (one of the most important cities in Italy) but we have nothing in common, no influences from the “big city” or Europe. We’re stuck in the twilight zone… just like all the country. Milano is fucked by fashion and stupid people… the disco. Sun shine so bright.” (Formenti)