*all quotes are by Terry Pratchett
“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” *
Karl Marx just walked onto the tram. Looks a bit different from his portrait, looks like he hasn’t been home for a few days, but he seems to keep plugging along. Funny how iconic the world manifests around you, and how eloquently the works of Photographer Antonio Muti collects them: the subjects (both humans and inanimate objects) look out of the photos and through them, the apathy of the composition pierces you like an electric arrow: they appear totally unaware and just…bare; and just dying to tell you something.
Through their utter simplicity, new meanings appear out of nothing. These places and people, despite an almost empty appearance, paint the proverbial devil on the wall for all to see: images spread out naked, legs open, vulnerable. What appears to be just a sleepy street is a trove of old energies of past life, love and history. Faces weathered by life do exactly the same.
Understanding this idea is the key to understanding this book. The collection of photographs is the fruit of Muti’s tireless searching to confirm for himself a truth his heart and soul hold dear: a life quest to find more than just status quo, and his obsession to capture it, bringing back his booty of proof so we all know and can see, and with it, a humble satisfaction that Muti saw it for himself, and is just sharing—oh so nonchalantly– these truths with us. The idea is so simple, it kind of un-inherently takes the piss out of other artists who try so hard.
“The entire universe has been neatly divided into things a) to mate with, b) eat, c) run away from, and d) rocks. If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.” *
Hanging out in the park after working Friday. Nighttime in Görlitzer Park with the Moroccans. Crazy place. A snapshot in your head, of this African girl coming up to your group, sobbing, listening to Nicki Minaj (!) full blast, still sobbing. Those around you keep saying she’s crazy, but her portrait sticks to your brain. Life is a miracle, and only you have seen it manifest. Yet, how can you explain it to the ‘normal’ people around you?
The 35 mm, color analogue exposures cut images (absurdly symmetrical, like pieces of birthday sheet cake) out of magically mundane everyday life, showing how beauty works in the shadows and contours that form the fleshy, meaty essence of reality. The obscured backgrounds and compositions allude to how we miss it (just there!); strange posing and quiet street scenes sing praise to what the ‘human’ ultimately is– human– and ‘life’ is just glorious life. (You sense a humble dignity shining through; It makes you almost jealous to have missed it.) All-the-while, Antonio Muti’s energy smiles back, abjectly reassuring there’s no real ego found in wisdom.
“There are times in Life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons teach small children this.” *
The photographer’s incessant wandering of the streets of Berlin reaps a bounty of truth, his route sometimes clear, sometimes veering off onto unbeaten paths, unto unbeaten corners, where the ghosts of past events linger in the shadows to be seen again in the image. This is real life, people! Exactly these moments are what our hearts crave for, and these moments are experienced everyday whether in Berlin or Idaho. There’s more to life than rocks and food, but we forget the importance of this realization. Such magic can be seen anywhere if you humbly seek. Our logic and rationality forces us to overlook, yet it’s there.
This book is proof that more to life exists that what we are forced to see. Magic still exists in our adult world, Peter Pan is alive and fine—far off in Wonderland doing his thang, while we remain here, stuck with our right of free will and our choice of how we perceive it.
LUSH LIFE! Can be found at Neurotitan Bookstore in Berlin.
Antonio Muti — LUSH LIFE! Berlin on Foot / Photographs 2008-2013
Neurotitan Shop & Gallery / Rosenthaler Strasse 39/ 10178 Berlin / Mo – Sa 12 – 20h
Images: Copyright + Courtesy of Antonio Muti.