The urban loneliness of Angelo Marinelli


The urban loneliness of Angelo Marinelli

Sandra Krich



The first photo I saw by Angelo Marinelli was Pink Loneliness and it instantly grabbed and intrigued me. It's an urban scene where a smaller building is juxtaposed at an angle against another much larger one. Apparently simple at first glance, it is much more than just an cityscape and it became instantly clear that as a photographer Marinelli is an amazing storyteller. 


There was something unsettling  about the composition and the most obvious is that we cannot see the full outlines on any of the buildings. We don't know where they start or end, and they feel bound together as part of the same urban mass, like an architectural narrative with no beginning and no end. There is a messiness in the cables lines that cross it, telephone boxes amassed against a wall all in a jumble of criss-cross wires. The final result is almost a geometrical study made of untidy circles and vertical and horizontal lines. The loneliness comes first and foremost from the stillness of the scene, pervaded by a subdued yellow and pink night light. This paused moment seems carefully staged and becomes even stronger against the contrast of the untidy urban lines. 

The stillness and the untidy, both work as variables of the same photographic equation, and hanging in an unsetting balance between them is Pink Loneliness.

The windows in the buildings are shut, but we know there is life inside them and here Marinelli starts a parallel narrative. The  outline of a visible figure stands inside against the glass, the light veiling it and making it inaccessible to us, the other window with a shutter made of an straw-like material appears as a stand alone organic presence in this scene made of concrete. The antenna peeking from the window in an almost comic location, seems to engage in a dialogue with Marinelli's camera, since both work as receptors of a multitude of signals . As a photographer, Marinelli seems to corroborate Mark Twain's view on the importance of bringing the imaginary into reality, as he said "You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus". Marinelli seems to capture not only what he sees but what he imagines. 




Born in 1979, in Monteiasi, Italy, he moved to Rome and travelled extensively through Asia and Argentina. The artists peregrinations and journeys are recorded as a journal in his photography and his photos are like his strides, his footprints.

Marinelli's previous work in set illumination and post-production has clearly been transposed, purposely or intuitively, into his work. The sense of staging and quasi-artificial light in his urban snapshots exude the feeling of silence and emotional tension of some parallel narrative we will never grasp. The subject matter of the photograph becomes a feeling, a sensation. That is the case with Pink Loneliness 2, in which in spite of  cluttered entrance, the light coming from the vending machine, the balloons and the large neon, we feel alone and almost trapped in an urban fairytale we cannot quite understand. His eye seems to be attracted by cultures, colors and places that intrigue him, as the photographic narrative is laid out for the viewer to decipher. 



In Kaminarimon,  we can see how his photos capture real scenes, with real people, yet, Marinelli's lens turns the mundane into a quasi-cinematic narrative. The people places and objects seem to tell a different story other than the one depicted as if he is playing some kind of semiotic game with the viewer, as if something is a symbol for something  else. The guard in the small neighborhood police station sits alone, his face veiled to us, in his own world, engaged in some kind of reading or maybe writing notes. There is a sense of now, of the moment he clicked the camera, fascinated by what in some cases could be seen as minor “fait divers”. His photography has a poetic stillness that is almost reminiscent of the American painter Edward Hopper in the 1940's. Marinelli's urban characters carry on their life as contemporary Nighthawks, aloof and unaware of the eye of the beholder. He shows us a glimpse into his own travels between Asia and Italy, yet the melancholy is artworks exude make them highly relatable as a human feeling and transversal across all countries and cultures. 


In Tokyo Night Pink 2, he seems to capture another kind of reality, almost as if an abstraction. We see a deserted street in which the only dwellers are traffic signals and an array of wires. As observers we stand alone, at night, facing a wall, and Marinelli's photo seems to put us at a solitary crossroad, as if we are in some kind of hypnotic dream. We feel stuck in time and outside of time and Marinelli's photos  seem somehow between dream world and reality. The movie critic Tom Charity, said about David Lynch's Mulholand drive "It is a vision of the way things were and is full of idealized trappings that don't exist any more". Never has this comment been more on point for another artist then Lynch, than it is for Angelo Marinelli.