Luisa Lambri

Castello di Rivara

Luisa Lambri’s photographs depict enclosed spaces and interior architectural details, describing not so much places where people live and work, as spaces that link rooms to each other and to the outside—corridors, stairways, and other places of passage. Rather than environments designed for specific activities, these are simply zones through which to travel. In Lambri’s work, they are invariably deserted, creating a sense of apprehension.

We have become accustomed to spending our lives in buildings that have a blank, ambiguous appearance, and Lambri chooses sites that are particularly banal and commonplace: long corridors seen in perspective and punctuated by windows; spacious, anonymous rooms; steps that rise up or rush downward; and entryways to more or less elegant buildings, containing a sporadic chair or table. She injects a sense of unease into familiar kinds of urban architecture: the spaces in her photographs reveal neither history nor identity. Seeming to have little connection to one another, they echo a life spent in transit; all of Lambri’s images are, in fact, shot over the course of her travels, and her work suggests the furtive glance that the tourist casts on the “Other.”

Despite their apparent objectivity, Lambri’s photographs present a series of mental states, infusing reality with emotionalism. To arrive at her work’s powerful and disturbing effect, the artist renders these spaces with great clarity and precision, but eliminates color, save for a dominant shade of blue. She achieves this bluish cast through her developing process, as well as her decision to shoot with film intended to be used only with artificial lighting. Whereas a black and white process might allow for a somewhat naturalistic look, this method gives a glacial appearance to the light that emanates from the large windows, neon lamps, and other kinds of fixtures illuminating this relentless and labyrinthine succession of corridors and stairways.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.