Interview: Franco Smith
Luca Curci talks with Franco Smith during THE BODY LANGUAGE 2022, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Born in Antwerp in 1983 and raised in Milan, Franco Smith is an italian-english photographer interested in travel photography, landscape architecture and life stories. He started to approach photography when he was ten years old using his parents Canon AT-1 and he found this media so fascinating he decided to involve it in his life. In high school he entered the magic door of the darkroom where the childhood play started to comes to life until he get to La Scala Theatre Academy where he took part in a Stage Photography Master. After studies he started to work as a photographer assistant and then as a freelance photographer. Travelling contributed to the idea of developing a language to describe the links between places and people, to create a sort of photographic storytelling. His works is based on digital collages of original photographs shot by him during travels all around the world mixed with shots of wallpaper scraps. The presence of wallpaper is to show a graphic description of the place you are entering. The artist purpose is to illustrate his view on locations he visited and to propose you to get in touch with them creating your own perception of the storytelling. You will see iconic objects, monuments, people and nature connected to each other by Franco’s imagination.
Luca Curci – Which subject are you working on?
Franco Smith – I am a professional photographer and I use photography every day in a classical view. As with any job, even for creative ones, you reach a sort of routine that risks leading to apathy. You feel the urgent need to give birth to something new, satisfying. Thus was born the Franco Smith project and with him the subjects that move it. All my artworks are based on a storytelling with a strong visual impact. They are digital collages composed by original photographs shot by me with the purpose to telling places, stories, connections and sensations.
LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
FS – I have always traveled both for work and for pleasure and obviously took a lot of photographs during these trips. Once back home, I looked at the images taken and relived memories, sensations and stories. But they were only my feelings and I could not share them with other people who had not experienced that moment. This thought has contributed to the idea of developing a language to recounting links between places and people, to create a sort of photographic storytelling in order to share my view with other persons. I realized that by combining multiple images taken in the same place I could also tell a story and not just show a beautiful pictures.
LC – How is your creative process?
FS – As I said in the previous question, I visit a place, I take pictures and then I elaborate a sensation I feel during this process. Then I come back home and I let time pass so that the memories settle. In a second moment I start to look at pictures taken and to realized what is really impressed in my mind. Starting from this point, I begin to create the work combining different photographs in order to give birth to a story.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
FS – I work on different themes depending on the place I visited and on the story I would like to tell. I certainly like to focus attention on social issues and events that have marked a place or a population.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
FS – This is a real good question. For me, being an artist is a rather new concept as the project comes from the impulse to get out of the routine. For the moment I am a person who likes to share experiences and is trying to understand if anyone else is willing to grasp this need.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
FS – Every artwork shown in THE BODY LANGUAGE exhibition has a key word. Through this word you can read the message hidden in the work. I have chosen the three pieces trying to connect them to the theme of the exhibition by analyzing the link between man and the surrounding environment. In every picture the human presence is very strong even if not densely represented. The focus is on desires, needs and fears that lead people to connect with their places to establish a sort of balance.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
FS – The artworks are part of a photographic project aimed at telling places, stories, connections and sensations. As I already said, they are digital collages of photographs shot by me and composed to give birth to a message with a strong visual impact. Every pictures is a sort of room I would like to introduce to the public. The first one is titled Room n. 1 – STAY BEAUTIFUL (Montréal 2018) and it is about good vibes. The storytelling goes around cultural exchanges that in this city have made a sort of need to build a brand new identity mixing different views and giving birth to a place full of dynamic contexts. A place where fusion is the key to interpretation of a unique and fascinating, elaborate and unpredictable hub of arts. The second one is titled Room n. 3 – THE WAITING (Cornwall 2011) and it is about floating. Cornwall is a place where time seems to be insubstantial. As you can see in the picture, all the presences in the image are isolated and connected at the same time. They are looking to each other standing by for the first step. The last one is titled Room n. 13 – THE PHOENIX (Rotterdam 2021) and it is one of my latest works. This piece is about rebirth. In this story, rebirth means the cohesive effort of people, bodies and souls linked to give a new life to a scar, not in order to cancelled it but to grow again with hope and consciousness. Certainly this is my view of the works and I do not expect it to be completely shared. I think it is important that everyone develop their own point of view, whether they have visited the place represented and also if they have never been there.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us? And would you suggest it?
FS – I am very glad to be part of THE BODY LANGUAGE 2022 exhibition and it was a real pleasure to collaborate with everyone in ITSLIQUID Group. I found very professional people, well prepared and gentle. I hope this is not my last time with you! I am very enthusiastic about the exhibition and for the moment I can only recommend a collaboration with you to all artists who want to propose their projects. This is my first time with you and, as I said, I hope not the last.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
FS – I take this opportunity to thank ITSLIQUID Group and I think it is an important platform for increasing the dialogue between artists and public. Art is so subjective that it needs to be disclosed to be understood.