Interview #9

Delfino Sisto Legnani

* The following text is an excerpt from an interview of 2016 published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).

Delfino Sisto Legnani (Milano, 1985) studied at Politecnico di Milano (Milan). His work has been featured at Victoria & Albert Museum and Design Museum (Londra); Il Crepaccio, Palazzo della Regione Lombardia, Pomo Galerie, La Triennale di Milano and Galleria Twenty14 Contemporary (Milan); Chamber Gallery (New York); Farenheit 39 (Ravenna); SI Fest (Savignano); 12° e 13° Biennale di Architettura and 14° Mostra Internazionale di Architettura (Venice).

Your home and your studio are filled with objects: minerals, ceramics, fabrics. You are a collector interested in a variety of media and materials, that you often blend in your productions: what does characterise your research and production process?

The research, study and organisation of the materials that I collect are a key component of my creative process. It is a characteristic of mine that I almost perceive as innate, probably hereditary. I mainly collect object for the mere pleasure of being in contact with materials, textures, smells, etc. The purpose of my collection work, indeed, is never completion or search for rarity, but the possibility of knowing materials and having them available to create combinations. The collection, the organisation (not at all scientific) and exposition through unprecedented combination are also practices that are part of my expression process. I live this type of collecting as a cognitive and aesthetical exercise that makes the very collection a work of art itself and therefore a knowledge tool.

Let’s take a step back, how did you start with photography?

When, in 2010, I met Ramak Fazel with his exquisite kindness and professionalism, was the moment I realised that I could not ignore my ‘calling’ and therefore I had to leave my job as an architect to devote myself to photography. From that moment on, I then redirected all my efforts towards a new direction, that now, six years later, stimulates me more and more every day.

Your work seems to be very variegated: you work with details and panoramas, portraits and abstraction. What is your fil rouge?

The change of scale, even extreme, is constant features in my works and projects. Pairing different points of view generates images that range from detail to panorama, with the purpose of leading the spectator on a dynamic path, which may be complex at times, but I believe it is interesting, where sudden scale changes lead the narration. I utilise this expression method with the intention of representing the complexity of reality, to answer the necessity of making the complexity of systems legible. It is a great analysis and synthesis effort that actualises in images that are often graphic and abstract, but always real.

Besides you shoot with machines that are also very different from each other.

I believe that the use of different pieces of photographic equipment is a necessity generated by the search for always representing complex systems. The alternation of formats becomes instrumental for the result that I want to achieve. Also the process is influenced by the tool: the use of a view camera rather than a digital camera is a choice that radically influences the process and time schedule, which also determine a different result.

You worked for several years with Domus and other publications such as Apartamento, Pin-Up, ICON, Abitare… what does interest you in the publishing world?

Another red thread that connects my works from a projectual point of view, but also differentiates them in the final result, is the will to establish an osmotic relation with the subjects involved in the production phase (clients, art directors, photo editors, assistants, artists). In particular, what I’m looking for in publishing works is the possibility of interacting with directors, art directors and writers, in order to let them enable me to create a tale with them. Meeting forward-thinking directors, who grant you a certain degree of freedom, brought to some of the best professional experiences of my life. For instance, at Domus, with Joseph Grima and Marco Ferrari I was allowed a certain freedom, so I had the possibility of grow a lot and express myself according to my sensibility. This allowed me to develop a language, in the publishing domain, that to this day I employ also with works that have nothing to do with that world. Nevertheless freedom of action is based on the trust that, in years of work, was established in order to achieve increasingly better results.

You also worked with Fondazione Prada, in Milan, for which you curated FRAGMENTS: a photography project that documented the transformation of the urban landscape during construction works. You were born in this city, you have an architectural training and you are particularly interested in cultural and social development; what did this project mean to you?

The great team at Fondazione Prada and Rem Koolhaas and Miuccia Prada’s trust and willingness to experiment, who let me work and manage the project completely autonomously, brought to life a project that very satisfied about. With the help of Marco Cappelletti I could represent, according to my taste, a construction side that, for its own nature, would require more formal shots. The outcome of the project is a reportage where the scale of creative detail flirts with more broad and traditional views.

You created MEGA, a space dedicated to exposition but mainly experimenting.

MEGA is only a few tens of square meters, but addressed to the display of great projects. Hence the name. The project was born from the willingness to let the artist take freedoms they cannot take in galleries. With Davide Giannella and Giovanna Silva we will propose a tight schedule alternating projects curated and produced by MEGA with other external projects that we deem interesting.