Focus on: Francesco Nazardo for 2016 – On New Italian Photography

The human figure is the favourite and recurrent subject of Francesco Nazardo’s work. Details of the body, in particular. Fragmented and torn to pieces, so that the eye of the viewer is oriented and inevitably voyeuristic. Placed within familiar and fairy atmospheres, his characters perform enigmatic gestures, rather than codified and shared actions. They methodically lead to chaos. Nazardo invents his personal alphabet, composed of a sum and subtraction of other languages, halfway between an excess of communication and its sudden interruption.

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F: What was your first approach to photography?
FN: It was very coincidental. I studied History at university and graduated in 2008 right after the financial crisis. I had difficulties finding a job. I started taking pictures because I had a lot of free time.

F: Who or what had an influence on what you do?
FN: Passion and socio-economic factors.

F: What stories do you like to tell?
FN: I am more interested in narrative structures than in narrative contents. There isn’t really a single typology of story that I am particularly attracted to. I‘m interested in the way images are constructed and the difference between visual language and content, and how the two can create a seductive cocktail. For example, a lot of people tend to have a strong negative view of advertising. But it’s just the content of advertising that is shit. Its language, is just another language.

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F: What is the best photobook you have seen so far?
FN: Evidence by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel (1977).

F: What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?
FN: The other day I went to see Mathis Altmann at Truth or Consequences (Switzerland).

F: And the record you like the most?
FN: I am not sure. I mainly listen to podcasts and not that much music anymore. There is a song called Hold My Liquor from Kanye West’s album Yeezus (2013). West raps very brief verses in it and there is a very short electronic sound between the verses, reminiscent of the noise of some sort of siren alarm. The latter sound acts as a substitute to the traditional rap intermission “huh”. I wondered whether it is still hip-hop or not because of that sound. It reminded me of the first time I saw a Wolfgang Tillmans’ piece from his Lighter series (2005–8). It was a monochrome photographic print, but it was bent diagonally near the bottom. I asked myself very similar questions about boundaries and stuff, like “is this still a photograph or is it a sculpture?” I find such issues interesting in terms of dynamics of power, like borders as a first step toward creating hierarchies. Tillmans did it in such a nice simple way. Nowadays a lot of people do stuff like: “Hey if I print a photograph on a rock it becomes a sculpture and I become an artist!” It is not so interesting anymore.

F: What are your future projects?
FN: I am moving to London in July and I am setting up my studio there.


Francesco Nazardo was born in Milan in 1986. After graduating in History from the SOAS University of London, he moved to New York, where he worked as a freelance photographer and as an assistant to photographers Ryan McGinley and Asger Carlsen. While a student of the Master in Visual Arts at the ÉCAL Art School of Lausanne, his photographs were published in national and international journals and magazines, such as L’Uomo Vogue, Dazed & Confused and Vice. He has exhibited in various group shows, including Life Is a Bed of Roses at Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard (Paris, 2015), Solar Anus at SOMA (Mexico City, 2015), Means of Production at Les Urbaines (Lausanne, 2015), Find The Crack at Ed Varie (New York, 2013), What’s Next: The Future of Photography at FOAM Museum (Amsterdam, 2011), and Face, Head and Shoulders on the occasion of Copenhagen Photo Festival (2011). In 2016 he will take part in the exhibition Ehi Voi on the occasion of the Quadriennale di Roma.

Francesco Nazardo’s studio in Lausanne.