Eternal London (2012-2014)
by Brett Rogers, The Photographers'Gallery in London, Uk
Giacomo Brunelli’s series Eternal London belongs to a long and rich photographic tradition of celebrated émigré photographers (such as the German and Austrian-born photographers Bill Brandt and Wolfgang Suschitzky) who brought a new visual intensity and originality to photographing their new home - London. Working a century later, Brunelli’s aesthetichowever is less documentary and more personal, inspired by a film-noir sense of disquietude.
Eternal London is the result of two years of constant walking, often for five to six hours a day, chancing upon particular things that sparked Brunelli’s interest – be that the shape of a hat, a piece of clothing or demeanour of a person, the character of an animal or gait of a public statue. Adopting the position of voyeur or spy – he follows his ‘prey’ until he alights on the right time to create the image. By pushing the lens to the closest point of focus, almost touching the subject, he suggests a very close intimacy with these strangers, whilst at the same time respecting their anonymity.
Shot with a Japanese camera from the 60s, Brunelli’s compulsion to exploit the expressive possibilities of black and white, his off-kilter compositions and interest in blurring, share the same directness and energy which characterisedJapanese photography from that same period– Daido Moriyama, Shomei Tomatsu and Eikoh Hosoe. Whilst his is a less politicised approach, he revels in translating everyday life on the street into a personal and poetic statement and isn’t afraid of considering the dark underbelly which characterised London both during the day and at night. Powerful in their ordinariness, Brunelli’s images speak emotionally of larger issues – the alienation and experience of urban existence, intimacy and distance, the public and private.
In all his work, Brunelli favours strong profiles as well as counterintuitive angles – exploiting shadows and forms which recall early Modernist photographers. His handprinted images exemplify his commitment to the photo as object, their intimate scale and limited edition numbers reflecting small-scale batch production in his darkroom at home.