Olivo Barbieri’s Artificial Illuminations

In his photographs, Olivo Barbieri (*1954 in Carpi) displays human living environments in such a way that the unknown facets of reality come to light. Urban centers in China or America dominate his photographic series, alongside geographic locations such as the Dolomite Mountains, the Alps or Capri as well as famous waterfalls in Canada, Argentina, Zimbabwe.

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“Canton, China,” 1998, from “Ersatz Light,” published by Hatje Cantz © Olivo Barbiero

From 2003 until 2013 he photographed more than forty cities and megacities worldwide. One of the distinctive features of his photographs is an extremely low depth of focus that creates the impression that what they show are miniature models. Despite crowds of people, flows of traffic, rows of skyscrapers, mountain ranges, or deluges of water in saturated colors and strong contrasts, the worlds he depicts seem seen for the first time. By long exposing of artificial illuminations, the feeling of estrangement is intensified even more. Barbieri produced his first nightlight photographs in the early eighties in Italy. Ersatz Lights presents all of the artist’s night landscapes for the first time.

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Singapore,” 2013, from “Ersatz Light,” published by Hatje Cantz © Olivo Barbiero

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