Paola di Bello’s Homeless Home

By Sariah Bunker, NYU Florence student

To reach the Fritelli Contemporary Art Gallery one must descend, literally descend down a concrete ramp into an refurbished parking garage.

The walls are tall and white plaster, and the space is open–an unusual attribute among art galleries in Florence, an often cramped city. If you–between Feb 20 and March 31 2016–traveled down this concrete slope, opened the heavy metal door, and traversed to the back room in Fritelli Contemporary Art Gallery, you would find 15 photographs. You would find Paola di Bello’s Homeless Home.

Di Bello, a Milanese photographer, juxtaposes discarded objects and sleeping figures which are photographed horizontally, and then displayed vertically; it seems the sleeping figures are standing up, and the objects are upright.

Homeless Home incites a strange desire to reclaim the disposed objects, to right a wrong so clearly expressed in these photographs. But words do not do the exhibition justice.

Paola di Bello lives in Milan and teaches at l’Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera. Her work has been shown all around Europe, including the Ottakringer Straße Gallery in Austria. Her photography often focuses on people or urban environments. Her last showing was entitled Framing the Community, Prato. Di Bello took portraits of citizens of Prato with a background often seen in postcards–one of the city’s main squares. In reference to the project, her website states, “This makes a clear reference to the souvenir photo, but one in which Prato residents create their own souvenir with a symbolic image of their city rather than visiting exotic countries. Thus the usual postcard stereotype is transformed into a personalized and private image depicting each of them.”

Since Di Bello’s work often focuses on the environment in which her subjects live, it is no surprise her newest exhibit should focus on those who have no traditional ‘home.’ Homeless Home may be the pinnacle of her work in this way, combining years of photographic dialogue, but it is certainly not the peak of Di Bello’s work; I’m sure she has more to say.

dibp_78 To see Homeless Home, visit Fritelli Arte Contemporanea between February 20 and March 31 of 2016, at Via Val di Marina 15, Florence.

Here’s the invitation:

Schermata 2016-02-16 alle 12.33.29