I Wish the World Was Even
How can we travel without photographing?
Wim Wenders’ Lisbon Story opens from the perspective of a man travelling.
The viewer's gaze is that of the sound engineer, Philip Winter, who crosses Europe by car, while the radio tunes in to ever different stations, while day becomes night and back again, while the sun alternates with rain. We look at the landscape through the windshield. We watch it change through cities, countryside, service stations.
Philip Winter is our unit of measure of the world.
He proceeds slowly, Wenders introduces him with a broken leg in a cast.
I Wish the World Was Even is a travel diary. Matteo Di Giovanni travels north by car, cutting Europe vertically, through the winter. In his story, people never appear.
Obviously he met many in the two months of travel, and in truth he had not even left alone. But in the two years that separate this book from the physical journey that took him from Milan to the North Cape and back, he edited the work several times and people gradually disappeared.
The rarefaction of human presence is the result of re-elaboration (this too is a journey, perhaps even more important) and finds correspondence in the sense of proceeding northward and in the experience of the author, who at one point separates from his partner and decides to continue the journey alone. He, a view camera, a 6x7 and the equipment needed to shoot in rather extreme conditions—for the increasingly lower temperatures and shorter hours of light. In the long hours of darkness, when photographing was no longer possible, Matteo was doing research (a habit acquired a long time before, when his work was more related to reportage and journalistic investigation, and his approach was faster), and writing—the texts are drawn from here. In a box in the back seat, a stove and the ever-present Moka pot.
To look at the world through the eyes of Matteo means, first of all, to be always immersed in the landscape, and to see it flowing along the sides of the road. The only image of an interior opens the sequence, and is also the only vertical: a bed and a forest wallpaper. We are then driven outside to face the journey. We learn to take a certain distance from what appears in front of us. Neither too far nor too close. A sort of safety distance that takes in a rather large picture while, at the same time, revealing an irresistible curiosity to look better and get closer. Barriers and obstacles inevitably turn up. They are met and overcome.
A sudden blunder leads to a surreal dream dimension in black and white: a suspended car, a hotel with a Lynchian atmosphere.
The awakening is unpleasant—something has changed. The road is suddenly blocked.
We need to start looking for a new direction, to reinvent a path. At this point it is clear that the journey is interior and the landscape is a pretext.
The sequence closes with a question—How far do you think you can go?—and the image of a road, taken from the side, where the ground is disconnected.
A ghost image follows—a building illuminated by a wonderful sun. Knowing Matteo's passion for music, it is natural to think of music ghost tracks. In 1967, on the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles saturated the groove of the album—the so-called inner groove—with the sentence, "Never could be any other way," repeated in a loop.
Published by Artphilein Editions, lugano, in April 2019
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Photographs and texts
Matteo Di Giovanni
Matteo Di Giovanni, Giulia Zorzi and Emiliano Biondelli
Matteo Di Giovanni
Symbol Tatami, Nettuno, Burano
Artphilein Editions, Lugano
Printing and Binding
500 copies including XXX Special Editions with a signed C-type print