At first you see the bodies and ask yourself why – that is how the story begins, how the narrative unravels, how you are made to look beyond.

Photographer Alessio Bolzoni, who has undertaken campaigns for prestigious brands alongside his artistic practice, embraces his experimental side in Abuse II, The Uncanny, the second volume in a project he started in 2017.

The background of the images feels sterile, its bright whiteness taking the role of decisive host and leading the eye of the viewer to the human shape. Bolzoni’s compositions follow suit, objective, scientific almost, details kept to a minimum so as to not distract the mind from what it is meant to acknowledge.

Abuse II, Event, 2018 © Alessio Bolzoni

For a moment there is no gender, no race, no age; nothing other than contorted beings. Clothing is a constant, at times even quite radiant, but it also somehow fades under the disconcerting structures of skin, flesh and bone.

Established as an artist of movement, as an artist who transforms still frames into dynamic objects of art, Bolzoni seems to dilate both time and space within his photographs. His lens captures in the true sense of the verb – there is energy, there is life enclosed in his work.

The world is however not used to seeing bodies depicted, exposed, in such unearthly ways. Either meant to shock or arouse, the narrative is ordinarily one of horror or perfection. Bolzoni’s pictures adhere to none of the two; instead they belong in an undefined middle that has the observer questioning their nature, their purpose.

Abuse II, Event, 2018 © Alessio Bolzoni

A challenging test on our ability to detach ourselves from the instant way in which we absorb and interpret photography, Bolzoni presents human beings in positions that transpire pain, discomfort and abuse.

Enclosed within as a companion, creating an interesting contrast, there is a further collection entitled Abuse II, Event. Presented in the form of a fanzine, the images are of clothes bought from a Syrian refugee that Bolzoni met while in Milan during the summer of 2016.

A second skin that saw many through the excruciating journeys across the Mediterranean and to Southern Europe, these pieces of fabric were photographed just as they were, unwashed, discarded. They echo the bodies that wore them – the desperate shedding of skin, of memory, of identity, to redeem a new beginning.

Together the new series in Abuse II delve deeper into the themes of his first book, Abuse, which examines the passage from life to death through images of decaying flowers. The photographs reflect on the physical and emotional elements that forge our bodies and souls, where life experiences become constellations of scars that run at many different depths and angles.

Embodying grace with raw yet elegant edges, Abuse II, The Uncanny creates a balance that stands testament to a passion and talent that has kept the artist behind the camera since the early age of fourteen.

Words by Maria Mendes.

Alessio Bolzoni’s new publication is now available to purchase through John Rule Book Distribution and Donlon Books, London.

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