The photographs I have chosen for this small exhibit represent the larger body of work done, while living in Rome for several years in the 70’s. It was a remarkable time to witness first hand a period of turbulence and transition in Italian culture. It was a period, which the former laissez-faire practice could no longer work as a system. For the Italian people the spirit la dolce vita was over. It ended in 1978.
That particular year saw the kidnapping and murder of former Prime Minister
Aldo Moro as the main event, challenging the well-tuned survival skills of the people. His captors, the notorious Red Brigades terrorist group held the country hostage to its whims and political anarchy. Moro’s body was left in a car in the Jewish Ghetto where I lived.
I sensed the climate shifting at that point which was only made worse by the death of two popes in rapid succession that same year. Paul the VI was old and frail and his time had come. His elected successor, John Paul I had a brief reign of just 33 days rattling the fiber of the people. His death was suspect, a possible assassination within the Vatican? The Italian psyche so adept at rolling with change and surviving was severely impacted. The culture was forced to adapt to the changing times of the unknown. This was all new territory.
This is the forum, the context for the photographs here exhibited at the Providence center. I made portraits, worked on the streets, found some relief in making simple still lifes, and I include a sampling here. It was interesting time, often stressful, sometimes fun, and always a challenge in getting the work done. I would expose and accumulate film in and around Rome, then head north to another studio to process and make contact sheets. Back in the city, I would borrow darkrooms, pee in the stop bath to replenish it, run out of water and take wet prints home with me on the bus to wash in a bathtub. I strung a clothesline of dying prints to prepare for an exhibit there.
To be Italian was to be resourceful and make do as one had to. This I knew well, but I too, was shaken by the external events on the streets. The Italian world was changing, a bit out of control. Life would go on and without a map. Here are my prints.
Exhibit Dates: May 17th through June 15th
Opening Reception: May 17th and Part of Gallery Night Providence
Stephan Brigidi was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1951, and is a widely published artist whose work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe. Brigidi received his MFA at RI School of Design in 1976, studying with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. He received a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship to Italy from 1977-78 and a Photographer’s Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts 1978. He has also received artist grants for his photography from, the Universities of Hawaii and Connecticut, the Unicolor Corp., the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities. Brigidi has been an invited artist resident to the MacDowell Colony and the Yaddo Colony.
In 1991 Brigidi collaborated with the poet, Robert Bly, on Angels of Pompeii, an artist portfolio and book published by Ballantine Books, New York. Remarkable People is Brigidi’s second book published in 1995 by the Sunningdale Foundation, RI. Afraid of the Dark: A Venetian Story, was published in 2015 by BVT Publishing, Reading, California. The Fire of Rome is Brigidi’s fourth book, completed in 2017. Brigidi has also completed his fifth book, Portrait as an Artist’s Limited Edition. Daylight Books will produce Brigidi’s new title, ROME 1970’s in Spring 2019.
Brigidi has taught photography, painting, and aesthetics since 1979 at such places as the Universities of Hawaii & Connecticut, Rhode Island College, and for many years at RI School of Design. Currently Brigidi is teaching Aesthetics in the Humanities program at Roger Williams University. He and his wife Julie make their home and studio in Bristol, Rhode Island
Whitney Museum of American Art; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; American Academy, Rome; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; New Orleans Museum of Art; Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design; Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona; Rhode Island Historical Society; Collections of University of Parma, Italy; Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California; Tampa Museum of Art, Florida; Cincinnati Art Museum; The Honolulu Museum of Art; Bristol Community College; Museum of Art, University of Oregon; Smithsonian Institution; Library of Congress; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Newport Art Museum; DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Ma.; H.L. Johnson Museum, Cornell University; Stanford Univ. Museum of Art; Peabody Essex Museum; Fitchberg Art Museum, Ma. The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Miami Art Museum; American Express, Providence; Prudential Insurance Company, New York; Ramada Renaissance, New York; Westin Hotel, Providence; Fall River Knitting Mills, Fall River, Massachusetts; Taco Inc., Cranston, RI; Citizens Financial Group, Providence; & Private Collections.