Afro Inspiration : Marco Ciccolella & Valentina Campostrini, Photographers


Marco Ciccolella and Valentina Campostrini are Italian photographers known for their work from Gnawa festival From Essaouira in Morocco. In this interview they share their experiences about being a photograph, participate in Gnawa festival and some advices for aspiring reporters.

DiasPortrait - Marco Ciccolella & Valentina Campostrini, Photographers

Hi Marco Ciccolella and Valentina Campostrini please introduce you to our readers ?

Dear readers I am a photographer and web programmer. Valentina works as a psychotherapist and is involved in situations of social and children with psychological difficulties and family. We are two people who like to know. We live in a complicated historical period, but only with the daily work of all we can get out and find our way to the future. The photograph is a means for us to approach and knowledge of the world in its various facets. I deal with many years of photo works related to social and reportage of events around me. For Valentina her passion for photography began when she was a teenager and enjoyed photographing friends on holiday. Now we think that photography can be a means to give voice to all those social realities and that are often not taken into account.

Everyone thinks he’s a photographer. Explain to us your job effectively?

We like reportage photography, in the last year I’m following social and political projects of my country. My last big work is, reportage and book from Paralympic Games of London 2012. It started one year ago and it’s not finished yet. In this year with other people we opened a new association called NESSUNO[press] to organize workshop and make reportage of our time. It takes a lot of time to diffuse and produce own work. The greatest difficulty is to raise fund to make works. The best choice is to look for companies that want to sponsor the job, but is not so simple.

Le Festival Gnaoua et des musiques du Monde d’Essaouira 2012

You seem to have various interest but do you have a favorite topics of work ?

We prefer to work with people. With our pictures we would to say life, enjoyment, entertainment, difficulties of people. We worked mainly in our country. In Italy there is a very difficult politician situation and there are a lot of histories to show.

How will you describe your style ?

When we work with our photocameras we go inside the situation. We like to hear the sound, sniff the smells, touch people. In a party, in a political rally, in a popular event, we don’t like to see it from far. We prefer to take a picture from inside. Frequently we use a wideangle lens, because for us only from inside the event I can talk about it.

Back to Morocco, can you briefly summarize the concept of Gnawa Festival of Essaouira ?

We saw for the first time Gnawa Festival last year. Before we go to Essaouira we studied about Gnawa music : what is it, why in Essaouira, which kind of festival is, and a lot of information and video clips you can find on web. Essaouira festival is more than you can find on it. In the city you can breathe music from the morning to late night. More than 400.000 people from Africa and Europe come to this little city for three days. Gnawa music is hypnotic, meditative, engaging. On the top of city’s door, in the beach, in square or in little room. Gnawa music transports you and free your mind of all other thoughts. After a concert very lively tones and faster, you can feel much more relaxed and happy.

Le Festival Gnaoua et des musiques du Monde d’Essaouira 2012

So how was your experience back there ? We see a lot of different venues in this project ?

There were five official venues in 2012. Two main venue: Place Moulay Hassan and Scène Méditel (beach). There were also three little places called Intimate Concerts : Bab Lmarssa, Borj Bab Marrakech and Dar Souiri. The experience around this venues is so excited. From 7 pm to 3 am there are concerts and you can go from a peaceful environment in a Riad to the large expanse of beach people of the city.

How do you approach this work ? What were you tring to capture or say with your camera ?

When you prepare a reportage you can’t define all the options you can find. The photographer have to assist to the event without participate to it. People don’t have to see me, we are like a ghost. To take a reportage of music festival usually I study what kind of music I go to listen, I read the pages of artists: social networks and personal pages. But we don’t want to know all the informations. The surprise is an important part of this work. Only if you approaching the situations with serenity and lightheartedness you can capture the essence of people. You have to see what the others do. You have to listen music. You have to smell the places and take picures only when you have understood where you are.

Your best memories refers to ?

Our best memory is when we saw three girls during the concert. One with traditional clothes and her hands painted with henné, the other with jeans and a colored sweatshirt and the last with a short skirt and a blouse. This is the real integration. Three friends with different styles and they have no problem to go all together. This is what we want for our country. Every people must free to choose without bias without the worry of not appeal to someone.

Le Festival Gnaoua et des musiques du Monde d’Essaouira 2012

 Will you be part of the next edition ? What would you expect ?

The first time we have been to Essaouira just 3 days. In this edition we would to know more. We would to live in this place about one month to take the real essence of Gnawa music, also outside the festival. The music is so hypnotic. If you close your eyes you can travel all around the desert and fly over oasis and sands. We would to know some musicians and talk about his experience.

Is there somewhere else you wish to work in Africa ? Why ?

This time we contacted a foundation: High Atlas Foundation. We would to take a reportage of their work. In Italy is not a good historical period. There are a lot of job and cultural problems. And many people become racists against some other people. They don’t know really why, but they have fear of people living in a slightly different. The problem for us is only to know each other. With my work I want to tell different story of people. Every in the word people live, study, work, and have the similar problems. If I could know what the other people think I can talk and have an human interaction. I think there is a lot of economic problems in Africa, frequently caused by rich countries, but I want to learn how to learn to be more person and less consumer.

About your work, are you often face constraints (freedom to work, censorship) in your craft, you go further? and you take the risk?

During our work I have one rule over all: Respect. If someone don’t want be portrayed in a photograph I don’t use it. The photography is for us a way to meet people. Luckily in a concert I don’t have this kind of problems. When meeting people hiding or does not want to be portrayed normally we apologize and go elsewhere. If I can talk I explain my job. I never have any problems.

Le Festival Gnaoua et des musiques du Monde d’Essaouira 2012

Do you work together with other types of artists (writers, musicians) for joint collaborations?

In our town I work and know a lot of other artists: pittori, scultori, musicisti, fotografi, poeti, scrittori. We love to work with them and occasionally we made some jobs together. It is so important to know different style of expressions. You can’t stop to learn and to change the way of working and thinking.

Your work gear (for experts)? and what’s the perfect backpack reporter?

We like to go as light as possible. When we work in a public events like a concert we use our reflex with one or two lens. We have to be able to move faster without too bulky equipment. Normally we use a wide angle lens and a medium telephoto. We are sorry, but for us is not so important which kind of lens you use. When we have to do a reportage inside a little group of people or we have to go in house of someone we use a little camera. People normally feel embarrassed and hangs in front of equipment too flashy. Today there are perfect compact cameras for reportage. You can do a great job even with a disposable camera, but you must have a very good idea.

Le Festival Gnaoua et des musiques du Monde d’Essaouira 2012

Any advice for aspiring photographers ?

We are not the right people to give advice. We are still learning a lot. I can take a title from my last job as an example: RISE AGAIN. A job around the last paralympic games. If you have an idea, if you have a project, if you want to do something, you have to think you can fail. It’s normal, it’s necessary to go over. But you must keep going on. Every fall strengthens the soul and spirit and you can face the greatest difficulties. Today social network and internet give a simple way to let know their own works and ideas.

If I say Afro Inspiration you answer ?

When we think Afro we see a smile. We would to say this to every people in Europe. We hope in a near future that every people can live with your own religion and own traditions in the respect of others. This is very far now.

A last word to our readers ?

In our life we have always tried to follow the serenity. It’s more important than happiness. When you are serene you can do everything you want. All over the world the peoples follow money and power. If you follow the serenity you can have what you want. It’s very hard.

Le Festival Gnaoua et des musiques du Monde d’Essaouira 2012

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