Home Edizioneed. 5 Deus ex machina – Franz Soprani
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Deus ex machina – Franz Soprani

by AdminAg

Written by Artemide De Blanc

What did the great masters of the 60s, 70s do?  Icons like Avedon, Newton, De Marchelier?

“They did the whole concept, they studied the product. The campaign was entrusted to the photographer. The product could also be a secondary element’.

As he speaks, Franz Soprani, you hear the exegesis of the term ‘photography’: the raw, sharp light of reportage, the persuasive patina of glamour, the neorealism of -finally- verisimilar weddings.

“Oliviero Toscani is a clear example of emphasizing the concept: the message of brotherhood, conveyed in color, in multi-ethnicity, hinted at the product but did not impose it as the central element.

No more thinking subjects then? Just marketing?

Let’s say that the concept is entrusted to the agencies and the photographer has lost weight, he has climbed to a more executive level. I attended Superstudio for dozens of years, I got to know great people like Peter Lindbergh. They were recognisable. Today you perhaps recognise the imprint of the art director. In fact the fashion photos are quite similar to each other. There is the son of an international star who has taken up photography, the arrow to his bow is having millions of followers. The studio assistant arranges the lighting and an agency employee talks to the models.  He just clicks.

But then in this homologated mush, how can one leave one’s signature? How does one select a ‘real’ photographer?

I would shoot on film, like at the driving school test. Field test! When we were kids we went around taking pictures with two rolls of film, 72 poses. There was a price in terms of time and printing, you had to be careful otherwise you lost the day and money. Today, with the endless memory cards you shoot two or three thousand shots and something comes out!

Are you nostalgic for the film?

Film is raw, violent, it shows you what you have captured. Digital ones involve post production: I have seen slimming, firming, redoing teeth, smoothing faces. The correct word for it is ‘artefact’. Photoshop experts edit everything: did the model get into a fight the night before? Doesn’t matter, it will be cancelled! The photographer modelled with light, he would even remove a pimple by changing the light. There was the point of view, the cut, the moment of the shot, the involvement, the concentration. Now there is post production.

Harmony or contrast?

I care little for the first one. I am fascinated by the contrast. Is Canova better or Bernini? The first one perhaps has a more aesthetic taste, the second makes things alive and flesh pulsate. In the end the photographer expresses himself through images: expectations, dreams, hopes, manias, perversions. 

Actually your Sagrada Familia has cranes behind, and we find a man wearing underwear near the church.

The cranes are a projection of the future, they tell what that church will become, like a pencil ‘sketching’ a scenario. And in the image of man’s underwear, again in Barcelona, I was on La Rambla. I like to enhance the colours, a bit like material music works for sound masses. It has no melodic line, it surprises the ear with contrasts.

Speaking of masses, your repertoire of Auslicht shots is a chromatic composition: how did it come about?

Would you believe it if I said ‘by chance’? I had gone to buy some curtain remnants to change the light in my room, I had hung them up as a test. Then a girl came to take pictures and spontaneously put herself behind the curtain: there, I saw the light sculpting the body and started to work on the light source, to experiment. The genesis of Auslicht in any case is the composer Karlheinz Stokhausen, who created musical compositions for every day of the week, he gave me the inspiration.

Is photography Art?

Photography is a “minor” Art, but just like the “major” Arts , helps us to change the world’s perception. It a greater advantage comparing to painting, which is immediate, it doesn’t require to be elaborated next. The photo captures a moment and communicates it abruptly.

Let me tell you that you are the only one who has made weddings realistic: do you photograph those too?

The photographer must photograph everything! The ‘everything’ gives you a view of the world as a whole: animals, places, situations. I have applied the same laws of reportage to weddings. Among my masters  there are people like Franco Fontana, with his wonderful urban landscapes. Or Carlo Bavagnoli, the only ‘non-American’ to have worked for Life: he did a cover with Jane Fonda during the shooting of Barbarella. It was the 1970s.

Is vulgarity objective or subjective?

It is answered by philosophy, of which I am an adherent. To answer I would quote Schiele when he said that ‘Pornography is in the eye of the beholder’.  This leads me to oppose forms of censorship in general. Think of the modern censors’ concern to avoid violent images when no one cares to conceal the horrors of war. We live in a hypocritical society, where minors roam the web finding every form of sexual display and then are pretended to be protected by rhetorical statements.

What about porn?

Porn is a commercial operation! It is never an authentic expression! Let’s talk about eroticism being sold as desire, to those who cannot perform it themselves, let’s talk about selling. “I buy and watch someone do it for me, as if it were me”.

How do you see exhibitionism?

I have never considered a woman who shows her body to be an exhibitionist, I see it as a way of feeling and being.  I think it would be a good idea to educate people from an early age not to be afraid of sex, to live a normal life with a critical spirit for what is happening around them.  Bad education always leads to deviations that result in disrespectful or violent behaviour towards a woman. But we still see this in clichés, don’t we? The man with fervent sexual activity is cool. The woman is what?!

 If you were a film, which one would you be?

I’m undecided between two. Keep in mind that I also write subjects for films: short films, movies, all original stuff that has never been seen on screens. And I have two films in my life, one is 2001 A Space Odyssey by Kubrik, which I consider a fresco on the life of man, with its aesthetic narrative perfection. The second is Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, which is about disillusionment and the dystopian future that awaits us as we walk in the line of destiny.

Which one are you?

One or the other, depending on your mood.

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