His work analyses a variety of issues: the alteration of the landscape, the disorientation of man and the meaning of art in an era of hectic technological development. The cities, from their outer reaches to their inner core, represent the ideal scenario for his analysis. Basilico’s photographs of city landscapes are solemn, sophisticatedly devoid of any form of judgement and yet always rich in intrigue. His visual surveys on urban culture denote a cold, clinical approach in line with the most traditional architectural photography, a slow method applied to some of the most rapidly changing cities and sites. In contrast with his diligent, immutable style, his preferred subject matter is the architecture representative of the scars, mutations and mutilations of a place, and his photographs are never celebrative of a certain era. Basilico’s view goes beyond the visible — the architecture — and sneaks into the genius loci of the built space itself. If his images could be translated into queries, these would be: what happened here, here where something else used to be?
His images explore the relation between human-altered space and social dynamics, focusing the attention on places often representative of societies poised between their past and their future, places where these tensions left scars; Basilico observes them as “[…] a doctor would observe a patient who has survived a terminal sickness. He takes care of the damages while celebrating the incredible possibilities and perspectives that any kind of survival can produce.”.
The aim of this text is to question the absence of people in Basilico’s photographs, to find the traces of the human figure, in the attempt to demonstrate that within his work, this absence becomes the greatest indication of presence; his architectural photography is not interested in the aestheticisation of the individual buildings or in the visual indulgence of isolated edifices, but instead, it investigates the urban space to disclose the topography of its social structure.
Below, a selection of pages from The poetics of emptiness: finding people and society in Gabriele Basilico’s work: