Focus on: Lele Saveri for 2016 – On New Italian Photography

Lele Saveri’s work combines underground culture, fanzines, mysterious atmospheres, classic beauty and vernacular photography. An entangled and immediate melting pot. Barricades, his series on view at 2016 – On new Italian Photography, was made as the 2014 student protests in Hong Kong, against the electoral reform and in support of democracy, unfolded. Fifty years later, we witness an unexpected replay of the imagery connected to the revolution of the Sixties and Seventies. The photographic matter blends with Saveri’s technique: his works are black and white xerox.

2016 - On New Italian Photography, installation view © Viasaterna

2016 – On New Italian Photography, installation view © Viasaterna

F: What was your first approach to photography?
LS: Very reportage based – I realized it was a strong way of telling the truth, whatever it may be.

F: Who or what had an influence on what you do?
LS: Many people, places and events. The Roman underground counterculture came first, then I ran into the attitude of Londoners, then the fashion world of Milan, and finally New York, with all its insanity and contradictions. Many people on the way, but none that I should mention in one question.

F: What stories do you like to tell?
LS: In some ways, the meaning of photography hasn’t changed for me since the beginning, I’m still pretty stuck with the truth. I’m interested in humans, and in what they do on this earth, their interactions and behaviors.

F: What is the best photobook you have seen so far?
LS: Very difficult question. Ray’s a Laugh by Richard Billingham (2000) and Like A One-Eyed Cat by Lee Friedlander (1989) were mayor influences when I was learning about photobooks.

F: What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?
LS: Danny Lyon’s retrospective at the Whitney was good. That’s the last thing I remember liking. Actually, also the Mapping Journey Project by Bouchra Khalili at MoMA was great, especially for an Italian I think.


F: And the record you like the most?
LS: This is an impossible question, sorry!

F: What are your future projects?
LS: I’m trying to find a way of producing a book to express at best the feeling of the project I exhibited in the show, Barricades. I’m also working on the idea of re-utilization of things, in a broader sense – basically a book on the essence of DIY Apply on the everyday life. This is only on the photography side, then there’s the rest of my life, but that’s another story.



Lele Saveri, born in Rome, in 1980, lives and works in New York. An artist, photographer, curator and founder of the Muddguts Gallery in Brooklyn and the publishing collective 8-Ball Community, he has long focused on the organisation of events and initiatives linked to the world of photography and the visual arts, curating projects and exhibitions in collaboration with some of the most respected contemporary artists of our era. The project The Newsstand, one given over to the diffusion of zines and independent publications, was set up in 2013 inside the New York subway, then included in the exhibition New Photography – Ocean of Images at the MoMA in New York in 2015.


Lele Saveri’s studio in New York.