It’s 4 o’clock in a cold Monday morning and I’m standing in Piccadilly Circus. Not a usual timing for a walk in the centre of London – and it’s not even the reason why I’m here.
Among others I have been invited by the artist IMPREINT for a shooting of what I knew not a lot. I come to know that we are here to eyewitness the shooting of a new project titled Cut off. I see a cardboard: simple, hand-written, even shabby a little bit. Cut off, as I learn is connected to homelessness and involves several initiatives. The reason for the shabbiness is that this individual piece is advanced in years, but there is a whole (new) series with the same concept, which will be the protagonist of a series of photos taken weekly in different locations where people live or beg on the streets.
I know a lot of people who are touched by the argument of homelessness, people who volunteer, and yes, I have heard about artists treating the subject. But here something is different. We are present to take photos regarding houseless people, but there is no person in the frame. ‘The picture is sterile, the person is taken outside of it – cut off – with proposition. It’s obvious what happens in the scene. There’s no need to see the faces, we see everyday, everywhere. But there is need to face the fact that people still live on the street and the number of them is increasing.’ It’s a distinguished approach and it makes me curious to know more.
He started the project ‘Cut off’ on the 1 of January in 2015, but the sensibility dates back much further. He has had the idea in 2009, and already handled the argument in the so-called White frame collection and the widely popular project Portraits. ‘In 2009 I had found myself with the prospective to beg and I was looking with more attention at who was asking, who was giving and I thought that something was wrong. I didn’t see help in this action because nothing changed in the end of the gesture. So I was thinking you should ask for equality, for an opportunity to change your condition but at the same time do your best to make it happen. I created then the cardboard to represent this metaphorically, started to go out to experiment, taking a series of pictures of myself to feel the requested condition – clean-shaven, showered and well dressed.’
Many find comfort in self-pity, using, celebrating it. In IMPREINT’s persona there is no sign of any mimosa-personality. I don’t get to know much about the details of this period. It’s clear that his focus is on the present with a humil observation of the past. This might be what gives him the confidence to declare that we all need to do our best to make a change happen. How would he describe the phenomenon of homelessness then? ‘Embarassing. Like poverty or the fact that children die starving every day.’ For some reason, it’s still present in the society. I try to find out about his opinion, why does someone arrive to the condition of living in the street? ‘It’s a complex and delicate argument, you should talk with someone who works in these social fields. My opinion is that everything start from a pain, a pain bigger than you and that you can’t control.’
Though Cut off meets the eye as a photographic project, IMPREINT is a painter and uses photography as a tool of communication. The photo is not the artwork on its own, it’s meant to conversate, therefore I’m pretty sure that there are elements hidden from our imagination ready to surprise us. But how do they conversate and where do they bring us? As for me, they are images with just the right amount of mystery to understand the situation yet make me remember and reason. It’s not necessary to see the tragic image of a homeless, perhaps it would make it even easier to turn the page considering that our eyes are used to it.
Living in a period when everyone seems to be in charge of advices on life – from clothes to artworks filled with cliche-like sentences and guidelines one might wonder if he’s the next one to indicate us how to live, but it’s enough to look at his work to perceive that he always consciously leaves the viewer to arrive to his own interpretations. ‘I’m an artist, my approach is always artistic at first. Started from a concrete idea, I just decided to be there with humility and open mind, to feel and see what happened.’ He is determined to handle Cut off without judgements or the intention to change things, taking his part by bringing attention to the argument. ‘Just showing what is in front of us without any drama, an aseptic approach in the images.’
Follow IMPREINT’s the project here.