I photograph to overcome the limit of verbal language and to be able to express myself through images, in a dimension that I cannot explain otherwise and that looks inward.

I was born in Naples in 1989 and my passion for photography begins 14 years ago, when I approach for the first time to practical experiences in the darkroom, practices that I have never abandoned and that, over time, they led me to popularize and teach these techniques through workshops and extra-curricular courses at the Art School of my city.

During my life, however, I have not always been in Naples, in fact I lived in Marseilles, a city in which I often come back and which has given me experiences and knowledge that I consider to have been fundamental in my artistic growth, for example the contact with environments and subcultures that still influence my photographic projects.

I photograph to overcome the limit of verbal language and to be able to express myself through images, in a dimension that I cannot explain otherwise and that looks inward. I would define my photography as a search for memory in a dreamlike dimension, a personal and discontinuous narrative. I shoot on black and white film, illuminating my subjects exclusively with a small LED light. Much of my work then takes place in the darkroom, at the time of film development, process that over time – through experimentation – I managed to customize to get the evocative atmosphere that I have in my mind. At the time of printing no post-production I use. I chose this technique to obtain a photographic grain and a contrast that highlight the shape of the body and the materiality of light. With my photographs I try to express not a sexuality realized, concluded, obtained, but to resume the moment in which “exists” the desire with a representation of sexuality that is mental and – even if physical – that is however far from the total unfolding of it, but may remain suspended in a dimension of “unacceptable” dreaming, memory and fantasy.

Returning to the subject of technique, my idea of style comes from the fulfillment of a random error that can become language: from that moment I try to repeat this error denying the randomness. So, for example, the moved becomes the “space-time” in which something is happening, in the same way a light out-of-focus becomes the distance between one dimension and the other, finally the exasperated grain of the film returns an almost tangible materiality. The set of these “errors” defines the atmosphere of my photographs. I believe that the black and white, as well as being representative of my language, is able to represent photography in purity, this is light and shadow. In addition, the color, in the case of my subjects, I think it is superfluous because it removes the user from identification and immersion in what he looks; through the black and white I can stimulate the imagination, letting everyone imagine their own colors.

The body, taken in intimate poses, makes us immerse ourselves in a dimension of something already lived, dreamed of or that we will live. The scene is composed of a black backdrop and often a bed, covered by a black sheet too, all takes place in the dark. After the subject has undressed I turn on the small LED light, I light the body and meanwhile I try to create a context of ease through dialogue. The origin of the poses is very much based on the dialogue, with it I guide the subject, trying to leave a wide margin of spontaneity in the pose.

The session is a performance, in which light recreates the shape and volumes of the body, the subject is the task of giving expression to this form. The intent is precisely to tear the veil that separates fantasy and reality, dream and wake.

The mask, which often returns in some shots, has a double function, both to guarantee anonymity in some cases and, sometimes, the possibility of inserting myself into the image through the cat mask.

The experiences that have marked my artistic path are varied and different, but having to identify a specific one I think that my photographic work on the sea, started in 2012 and that I still feel “open”, is the most signifying because of training. Initially born as a report on the public beaches around the Gulf of Naples, it then evolved into a personal research. Although currently very far from what I do, it continues to be a source of inspiration.

My concept of transgression is certainly linked to personal freedom, to the rejection of any kind of authority that limits actions.

Through photography I express this concept by trying to break everything that is related to the world of classical, canonical photography. In sexuality, I don’t think there is a “transgression” but only exploration.

In my future I can definitely not miss the noise of the sea, a place to feel at home, remain independent in my work as a photographer. At the end of 2018 I published my first self-produced fanzine, “Sleepless” and with a small publisher of my city we plan to publish, next winter, a book that encloses the works from 2016 to the first half of 2020.

The expression that most represents me and my photographic work is:

“Our aim is wakefulness, our enemy is dreamless sleep” (Genesis, P-ORRIDGE).

Carmine Covino
Naples based Photographer