Flavia

Fontana Giusti

photographer

portraits . street . fine art

August 17, 2022 // Madison

On reading, the bible, and who owns art

My family is traveling in Europe while I chose to stay home to work and to take care of myself and of projects around the house that have been begging for my attention the whole year, and I thought I’d be in a creative flow during this time on my own, but I’m finding myself almost confused and unsure of how to occupy my time creatively, after spending a whooping 5 years without having real time entirely by myself.

I used to go on solo trips around the world, and come back to tell the tale, I’m a deep lover of long time spent on one’s own. But I lost the habit.

So, to fight the discomfort and lean into my freedom, I headed downtown on Wednesday afternoon to explore my usual photography grounds and make some images. 

Wandering about, I found this man reading at a bus stop, and it looked visually interesting, so I approached him. He asked me if I knew what he was reading, and I told him I had a strong suspicion, so he started reading out loud. Then as I kept photographing him, got into talking and bouncing around ideas about copyright and ownership of the images I was making, and who gets to interpret and decide what is the truth about the stories we read and illustrate (the Bible being the story of God and Christ). This man, a Jehovah’s witness, kept referencing his Bible along making points about my photographic practice, but while I’m certainly very flattered he put my work on equal grounds to the Bible (whichever translation you chose to read) and the art the was made for the Church (we talked specifically Sistine Chapel, but he was making a wider point), and while I also recognise that once I publish my work, I lose control of what will become of it, I still believe that as long as I’m alive, I retain intellectual ownership of the photographs I make. And if I ever make something as great and universal as Michelangelo’s affreschi, or the Gospels, humanity will decide what will become of my work. However that’s the most unlikely of scenarii, isn’t it?

All this to say that, if I see you on the street and you intrigue me, I will probably come and talk to you, and we might disagree on some very fundamental level, but as long we keep our conversation open and kind, I will also enjoy every piece of it, I might make some really nice portraits along the way, and I will love you for it.

I made these images with a roll of Kodak Tri-X400 that expired in 1983 in my Nikon F2, and a fresh roll of Kodak ultramax400 in my Canon Eos7.

And here are some other images I made that day.

Color studies:

My friend Megale, the soul of State St, who looked all fancy but had a broken rib…

People enjoying Lake Monona:

And scenes and moments that caught my eye: