Wash Park Art
STRANIERO: Maurice Mattei’s Pictures of Italy
Maurice Mattei’s STRANIERO documents a vanishing Italian lifestyle. The exhibit title is Italian for “stranger” or “foreigner” and poses the question whether the stranger is the subject, the photographer, or the viewer.
Extending the street photography genre established by Eugène Atget, John Thomson, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mattei’s photographs effectively place the viewer between the camera and subject, making us the mediator of the undocumented time surrounding the documented moment, and provoking our involvement in the collection’s leitmotif of the passing of time and all things in it. Mattei’s personal relationship to his subjects pulls us inward, away from the objective voyeurism or journalism inherent in documentary photography. The content and meaning of the photographs are abstracted with each viewer’s participation. That abstraction is what makes a photograph more than a document; it makes it a shared experience or affirmation of our humanity, which defies documentation.
Maurice Mattei is from Lucca, Italy, and has lived in the US for the last 55 years. He is a photographer, sketch artist, writer, and musician. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the US and internationally, and this year at The Contemporary Arts Center in After the Moment: Reflections on Mapplethorpe.
STRANIERO is the premiere exhibition of Mattei’s complete collection from this series of Italy, shot mostly in the Garfagnana region of northwestern Tuscany between 1977 and 2007.