Lost & Found


Anonymous photographs 1940 – 1960

4th December 2021 – 22th January 2022
Arcipèlago – Udine


For their third exhibition, the creative space Arcipèlago presents a curated selection of fifty anonymous photographs taken between the ‘40s and the ’60s. These photographs, never seen before, are part of Cristian Malisan’s collection. For years, Cristian collected photographic material in markets and auctions. Over the years, he founds thousands of negatives, rolls, and color slides, as so many stolen moments that no one remembers. This show is the very first occasion to discover them.

Anonymous and orphaned, these images remain mysteries. They have inevitably experienced a narrative erosion linked to the disappearance of the photographer, of the protagonists and all those who shared these stories. There comes a time when nothing remains of this truth, and the cliché ends up at the edge of the trash, ready to be thrown away. It is precisely here that their rediscovery seems extraordinary. These images represent a story that, somehow, everyone shares. The intimate moments of family life – often funny, surprising, and moving – are the story of all.

“Immersing yourself in the past lives of these strangers is a fascinating journey through the miracle of photography. These amateur and anonymous images create a vast collective memory, a universal kaleidoscope. The names, dates, and places are lost, but the permanence of the emotions resists. And these clichés that no longer belong to anyone become the images of everyone.” explains Artemio Croatto, co-curator of the exhibition.

Through the project “Lost and Found” Arcipèlago wishes to explore the art of the ordinary and the importance of vernacular photography. This practice, often reserved for amateurs, is outside what has been considered worthy of interest. It develops itself on the edge of what makes reference and matters in the artistic sphere. It is the “other side” of art.

“Every amateur practice of photography with its out-of-date situations, its anonymous faces, is by nature “familiar”. They are rarely “beautiful” in the artistic sense of the term: yet they retain, they solicit more than any other lost object. I do not collect these images because I hope sooner or later to find the roll of Robert Capa’s D-Day. I rather feel it like a mission: I wish to save these moments from the oblivion of time. I think that if these negatives came up to me, it means that there isn’t any more relatives, friends or acquaintances to collect and preserve their inheritance.” explains Cristian Malisan, co-curator of the exhibition.

A catalog will be published on this occasion, with a contribution by Roberta Valtorta, historian of photography, scientific director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography of Cinisello Balsamo – Milan, and professor of History and Theory of Photography at the Bauer Center in Milan.


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