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ONTHEMOVE. Toronto-Cortona

A photography exchange program between Canada and Italy

Voices in the Wilderness. By Ryan Walker

One small island in the Salish Sea, 350 people off-grid:Voices in the Wilderness documents this remote community, conjuring and interrogating our nostalgia for a life known via clichés cemented by time and distance. The island is not simply an escapist utopia; the land and the people who rely on it are subject to the vagaries of a modern, mainland world from which they are simultaneously connected and isolated. Island life bears traces of a rich history of outside influences even as it seemingly eschews them in favour of narratives of self-creation.

Islanders embrace a countercultural ethos that values autonomy; in the 1970s, they rejected B.C. Hydro’s attempt to sell service to them, relying instead on alternative energy sources. While traditional currency is exchanged for goods and services, most islanders have adopted work-trade and bartering. Power politics—hierarchies of race, age, and gender—are not left behind on the mainland. Neither is economic disparity; many long-term residents become financially strained when the boom of island-created economies go bust.

Because of its relative isolation, the island is subject to few, if any, regulatory restrictions and next to no law enforcement. In the 1920s and later in the1950s, logging was a lucrative business for island dwellers but only for so long: natural resources dry up. The marijuana business of the 1990s experienced a similar wax and wane. Steadily decreasing pot prices combined with steadily increasing RCMP raids on grow-ops stifled the industry. Consequently, many workers were left adrift, as this was the only work for which they were trained.

The island is still a microcosm of the wider world, where people must balance independence with co-dependence, where survival necessitates collaboration between a diverse cross-section of characters: nomads and draft dodgers, young families and solitary retirees, artists and tradespeople, homesteaders and environmentalists. This work witnesses the complex harmonies and dissonances of their various—and varying—voices in the wilderness.

La strada blu. 7458km along the Italian coastline. By Marco Rigamonti

Coming from the interior plains, Marco has always been attracted to the sea and to Italy’s astonishingly long and beautiful coastline. As a little boy, summer holidays on the beach were a much-welcomed part of the year.

This special relationship has been a key element in much of Marco’s photography. In fact, his first picture as a professional photographer was taken on a beach. And while landscape in general is central to his image production, in the wake of the traditional Italian landscape school, the sea is a refrain that repeats again and again.

Following the Italian coastline along its 7,548 kilometres, Marco depicts moments of Italian life that successfully avoid the noise and presence of mass tourism. A keen observer, he quietly watches his fellow Italians in their daily relationship with the sea, interpreting their connection to the coastline through his eyes.

Marco’s seascapes are never ordinary. Small details not only remind us of Italy’s natural and historical beauty but also document the neglected respect for it: ugly factories and illegal constructions intrude but do not disturb the scene. The silence and calm of some images border on melancholy, but a lightness and a touch of irony often make us smile. There is a familiarity that links one coastal region to another, a certain light that Marco makes his own.

La strada blu is not meant to be an atlas of Italy’s beaches; it is not an exhaustive sequence of landscapes that frame the country. It is instead a state of mind, a way of being—that of the Italian coastline.

Marco Rigamonti

Trained as a nuclear engineer, Marco Rigamonti was born in Piacenza, Italy (1958), where he lives and works. A professional photographer since 1995, he worked mainly at sporting events and weddings before turning to more conceptual work. Landscape photography is his new focus, winning him various prizes and international recognition. Rigamonti has also created and curated five editions of photo festival Fotosintesi and serves as artistic director of DA.GA.LLERY solo fotografia, all in Piacenza.

Rigamonti’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including: China Jinan Contemporary International Photography Biennial, 2008; Boutographies, Rencontres Photographique de Montpellier, 2010-2012; Fotonoviembre – Atlantica Colectivas, Tenerife, 2011 and 2013; Galeria Rita Castellote Int. Award, Madrid, 2012; Encontros da Imagem, Braga, Portugal, 2012; Sept Off, Festival de la Photographie Mediterraneenne, Nice, France, 2013. Two of Rigamonti’s images are part of the International Polaroid Collection in Boston. He has published five books: Promenade (2010, Pazzini Editore); Stessa spiaggia, stesso mare (2013, Postcart Editore); Camargue (2015, Le pont rouge, Lille); Nativity scenes (2018, Editions Bessard, Paris) and The bullet man (2019, Danilo Montanari ed., Ravenna).

Ryan Walker

Ryan Walker is a Toronto-based photographer, specializing in documentary, editorial photography, and visual advocacy. Graduating in 2013, Walker holds an MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University. He is also an educator for the BFA Photography Program at Ryerson University and Sheridan College. His creative practice explores intimate storytelling through cinema and photographic mediums.

Walker’s work has been exhibited in Canada, Australia and the United States. He has also received several awards, grants, and scholarships, including PDN’s Emerging Photographer (2017), The Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Emerging Photographers award, an Ontario Graduate Fellowship, and a Magnum Photos scholarship.

Walker is especially interested in people who model alternate ways of living; spiritual ways of living with and off the land: those who eschew what E.M. Forster calls “the architecture of hurry” that comprises contemporary urban environments. Propelled by a curiosity to explore unique narratives surrounding themes of land and identity, Walker’s interest lies in the interdependence of geographical and corporeal bodies—how location shapes subjectivity and vice versa.

  • Organized by: Istituto Italiano di Cultura
  • In collaboration with: Cortona on the Move and Magenta