A Conversation with Daniele Sambo
By Lara Mashayekh
On February 2nd, the Italian photographer, Daniele Sambo, gave a fascinating talk about his portfolio at the intimate Junor Gallery. As a native Venetian living in Glasgow, Sambo’s work reflects his multifaceted views of urban landscape settings and their relationship with local communities. The expanse of his professional exhibitions is impressive, spanning from the Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid, to the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale. His various residencies across Europe (including Croatia and the Netherlands) demonstrate his effort to reflect the transformative aspects of cities and their lived communities, and his commitment to representing the community’s involvement in transforming the environment casts a unique light on viewing urban life.
Sambo’s training in urban landscape and design is evident in the complexity and versatility of his work; he approaches settings from an almost architectural standpoint. Deliberately choosing to photograph banal landscapes, he emphasises their materiality (be it concrete, vegetation, or graffiti). Describing the role of light and illumination in his work within the backdrop of soiled garbage dumps, he carefully exposes each image at night-time, in order to capture the ephemeral qualities of the altered landscape.
Sambo explained how he realized that the urban wastelands ‘were not abandoned at all’, and described his Traces series, in which he illuminated spaces to highlight their evolution. In showing how people in the community would transform wastelands into communal gardens, Sambo illustrates a unique aspect of modernity and challenges notions about the isolation of living on the periphery of a city. He noted the differences between his cultural background of growing up in Italy where public spaces are more contained, and credited this as part of the reason that he became fascinated by Glaswegian culture. The ‘translation of space’ and the presence of people is ‘underlined by the borrowed electric energy’ sources he used to create his images. He described how the architectural and activist movements of the 1960s in Glasgow against the urbanization of the city also influenced his decision to photograph the wastelands and reflect on urban development endeavors.
His discussion of his Croatian residency was particularly interesting, especially because he created performance art for a museum and expressed the difficulties of facing linguistic and cultural barriers. His interest in photographing open air cinemas was distinctive, in part because of his Italian heritage, which also proved to be thought-provoking.
I found the talk to be insightful, and the ambience of the gallery to be very inviting. The Junor Gallery is currently displaying two of his photographs of temporary light installations in urban wastelands and community gardens.
Be sure to follow Daniele Sambo on Instagram @Nadbomsa, and The Junor Gallery @junorgallery for future updates.