Mood Building: On Blending Sculpture and Photography

All images by Daniele Cascone. Used with permission.

Daniele Cascone is an Italian fine art photographer. Of his art and photography, he says,I really like conceptual photography and for many years my artistic research focuses on the existential and psychological aspects of the human being.” The work explores the tension of existing as a human in a remarkably direct, dark manner.

He is truly a visual storyteller, crafting ambiguous but bizarre narratives with series of images. In one series, The Inner Room, which has three parts, Mr. Cascone builds still lives from bones, humans, and broken furniture. The figures are not treated as such, they rather become objects he uses along with other objects as props to construct his strange unreality.

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In another series, The Lonely People, masked and hooded figures are at least perhaps more human but not treated much more kindly. Because they have no faces, they seem to be subjected to an ambiguous visual violence. When his subjects are naked, they are vulnerable.

In this interview, learn how Mr. Cascone creates his sets, which he describes as decadent and claustrophobic and seek to disturb the viewer.

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What inspired you to create these photographs?

I don’t have a [particular] reference from which I get inspiration. I feed my mind constantly with books, movies, travels, art, photography, and sports. All these experiences, different among them, always bring something constructive, that mixes with my personal ideas.

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Why do you shoot black and white?

I think that black and white is an interesting language for altering the reality. It’s also a way to represent images long accepted and understood by anyone. Black and white allows you to simplify the image, making it more immediate and less confusing. I also like color, but I choose black and white for those projects where there are many elements, so I can simplify and give more elegance to images that otherwise would be wasteful.

What do you think creates moods in photography?

I am fascinated by the symbolism, by the gestures of the people, by the plasticity of a body, by the unconscious. I like everything that has a hint of mystery and bizarre. I don’t like academic photos; I’m more attracted by ambiguous images, which come into your head and for this, I think they are most fascinating.

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What does surrealism mean to you, are these photos surreal?

I like the surreal but at the same time, I hate when it’s predominant and redundant. What I try to do in my photos, it’s to give a little touch of surreal. I want to be in balance between the real world and the sphere of the subconscious. I like to cross the border a little, just enough to disturb the observer, but I don’t want to carry it in a whole dream or in a fantasy world. The photographic medium helps me a lot to do this.

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Can you tell me about the sculptural aspects of your photography?

I am passionate about all art of the past, especially by painting. I like to go to museums, studying the masters of the past and analyze their works. Instinctively, this mindset makes me more picky about the sculptural aspects of my photos. I like to see how the light draws the shapes of an object or of a hand, it’s like an unconscious search of beauty, even if I am in a dark and claustrophobic environment.

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Regarding sculpture in images, when creating pictures that involve elements that you build or construct to act as the subject matter in the final photograph — can you talk about the process of making sculptures for photography?

My photos involve many props, I try everywhere from flea markets up to old attics [to find them]. When I can’t find what I need, I [create] it. In many photos, I used the clay and, though I am not a sculptor, I still can give the desired shape to those elements, [which is] useful to complete the composition of the picture. I deliberately leave a very raw style, as it adapts to the general atmosphere of my images. A sculpture of this type often is used only once and then discarded.

I also make [sculptures] with wood and other found objects. These [sculptures] are shaky installations, often fixed with cables and hooks to not bring down everything. I think this is the main aspect in the creation of my images; the preparation of the set may take weeks, even for a single photo.

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Can you tell me a bit about how your vision has evolved, and the differences between older works and newer ones?

My last set of pictures, entitled “The Inner Room”, is the completion of all I have done in recent years. For more time I have represented scenes within closed rooms, with a decadent and claustrophobic mood. Last series was created from an idea of “accumulation”, where objects and people are mixed together and seek a balance. Compared to the past, I kept a uniformity of style and, after having worked for years at various photo shoots, I had more confidence in the execution. This last series symbolizes, in my artistic production, a completion of a work begun years ago: in fact, after that I’m going to change themes and style, and back into the game by exploring other way of expression.

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