Simone Bossi: photographing inside a dimension in which time is dilated
By Andrea Carloni & Carlotta Ferrati
The editor of a magazine would have many reasons to request an interview with Simone Bossi: he is one of the most appreciated young architectural photographers of the moment, his photos were published in the monograph Sou Fujimoto’s Architecture Works 1995-2005 and he worked with other important architects like Herzog & de Meuron. That being said, the real reason why we interviewed Simone Bossi is simply because he is one of our favorite photographers.
Does architectural photography require a particular approach compared to other sectors?
If we intend photography as a vehicle for reading and not as an ultimate goal, I would say yes. Photography is an excellent tool to fix different realities and among them also architecture.
Simone Bossi – Unknown wall – Ajman
Looking at your work, it seems to me that you mainly try to interpret rather than disseminate architecture.
Yes, I am very interested in enhancing personal and subjective experience. If there was another person there would be more eyes. I believe it is much more effective and truthful to use a personal point of view, amplifying one’s own knowledge instead of trying to give an impossible objective reading. I am fascinated by the fact that what I will hear and try to convey will most likely be read in another way. To give you an example, if during a shooting I feel extremely melancholy, the shots that will result can be read mystical and incomplete for someone and in a completely different way by others. Compared to my work, every person opens its own reading level and I find this very interesting.
Simone Bossi – House in a park by Think Architecture – Zürich
Is there any frequent request that architects make you during the shooting?
In the beginning, when I started doing photography, I clashed with more explicit requests. In those situations the question itself was the answer, meaning that I felt the request as a stretch and this made me feel bad. Taking pictures like that didn’t interest me. Now when they call me they leave me a lot of freedom. However I would not like people to think that this approach I have is a sort of imposition or arrogant attitude. Before the shooting I always spend some time with the architect and talk about the project, but also about many other things. This mutual knowledge and exchange of ideas and concepts will inevitably affect my shots. Also my interpretation is no longer conveyed.
So, do architects basically tell you their project?
No. We tend to talk about something else altogether. The approach is very free.
Simone Bossi – Second Wind by James Turrell – Vejer de la Frontera, Spain
Your shots seem intimate and capable of looking at the inner aspect of things. Does the shooting take a long time to reach these goals?
Yes, I would say enough. It is as if you were walking inside the architecture at a reduced speed.
So it’s like time got dilatated…
Yes, completely. When I work with film this experience is even more amplified and intense. I can do just over 10 clicks in 12 hours. I live the shooting as something very similar to an artistic performance.
Simone Bossi – House for a photographer by Studio Razavi Architecture – Loctudy, France
Do you have any photographers or reference artists?
Surely, there are some important authors for me like Ghirri or Galimberti, to quote Italians. But what has influenced me the most in these years is the world of art history. I am also attracted to the world of imagery related to fashion. I don’t look at fashion photos but I really like their construction of the photographic project. I like all the work that deals with the construction of the imaginary, of how the inputs are designed to arouse emotions in the reader. To give you an example, sometimes walking around the city you see the chairs tipped over on the tables of the indoors. This simple gesture conveys an infinite expectation because at that moment you don’t know if it’s a daily, seasonal closing or if there is another reason. This composition creates an atmosphere and it is exactly what I look for in my photos.
Simone Bossi – Brutalism in Manila
Over the years you have been able to photograph the works of many great architects. Just to mention a few, I’m thinking of Sanaa, Peter Zumthor or Carlo Scarpa. Have they influenced your way of photographing in any way?
I believe every project does. Some are personal initiatives. I recently had the opportunity to photograph San Carlino at Borromini’s Quattro Fontane, it was an intense experience. During the shooting there was an art high school class and the students sitting on the floor drew every detail, then there were the tourists who raised and lowered their heads feeling the intensity of the dome; the light was moving and I was there to breathe all of this.
Simone Bossi – Chiesa di San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane by Francesco Borromini – Rome, Italy
Do you interact with the people who live in your work?
I would say that it is fairer to say that I do not underestimate their presence. I want and I let to be influenced by all the things I found in the architecture. People represent stories that can put a smile on me or make me sad. All that affects my shots. Sometimes looking at people inside the architecture I start asking myself questions about them, such as what attracts them or what they are stimulated by living the building.
Being an architectural photographer means traveling the world. How do you relate to this dimension? What is the journey for you?
Surely the journey has always been part of my character. It took me a few years to understand me and to become aware of my explorer syndrome. However, I didn’t realize that at a certain point the explorer returns and tells. I lived in 4 or 5 cities and I saw Italy only as a starting point for the new journey, but now it has become as important as going. I need to get back to stable points and get bored. I need to get bored because the stirring starts from boredom, creativity comes from boredom. Boredom is beautiful. Another important thing to answer this question: it is beautiful to see different situations, such as passing from small villages in Nepal to the luxury hotel served and revered, but what becames clear to me is that the real wealth lies in the comparison between these experiences. In the same year I spent 10 days in the Arab Emirates and then I went to the French countryside among the cows, two very different situations.
Simone Bossi – From the last journey in Morocco
If I’m not mistaken, you’ve also been to Australia …
Yes, and in the same year also in Canada. In practice I went around the globe. All this made me realize that I like to feel the distance. I don’t like to be a photographer, I go, I steal and I go back. I recently did a shooting in Provence and since it was close to where I am now, I decided to take the train, turning a journey of a few hours by car into a real journey. It would have taken the same time to go to the other side of the world.
So, do you need to feel far away?
I like the whole journey. Even when I work on a film, I go through a long and intense experience that ends up at a certain point. I believe this relationship with time and space is a question of biorhythm that each of us has and manages in a personal way. I need slowness and distance.
Simone Bossi – Brutalism in Manila
Your Instagram profile like that of other photographers is increasingly successful. Does the fact that some photos receive more likes than others affect your work?
It is a very risky issue. It is important that the photographer does not let himself be conveyed by this type of rapid judgment. I don’t think we should be afraid to take other directions even if at that moment they are not very appreciated, maybe they will become, maybe not. We photographers are builders of images and it is up to us to propose the new. For me the important thing is to solicit and propose debate. Some images are very successful because they are immediately understandable. But I wonder: is it so interesting to understand things right away? Perhaps it is much more stimulating for the user to be put in a position where he must ask himself questions if he wants to understand the image he is observing.
What is your relationship with loneliness?
I need solitude, but at the same time I feel the need to get out of it. I make so many trips alone. I often meet new people on the spot to fight it. This work is in many aspects a continuous expansion and contraction because it is possible to use adjectives with opposite meanings to describe it, solitude / company is an example.
Simone Bossi – KOA by T.zed Architects – Dubai
Do you have a favorite machine?
I firmly believe I have a preferred approach. What is technical does not appeal me very much, I just say that the technique must be the consequence of an approach. Today there are perfect instruments that have changed our perception of perfection. It is often believed that a technically perfect thing is of good quality, I believe that this is not true. While I was walking in Rome I read an announcement in a shop of buttons that said “Well done hem”. Here I think the medium should be not perfect, but in a workmanlike manner.
Simone Bossi – CHROMOTHÉRAPIE
Last question not in order of importance. Many of your shots are on film?
Yes, half of them are on film.
To better understand, when you go to a customer to do a shoot do you use the film? So you like to risk …
In reality I like to risk less. Take the risk of photographing less stupidly. When you shoot with digital, you can choose all three possible typologies of shots. With the film you are forced to choose and therefore the performance becomes more intense.