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09 - Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People 2015-LR

© Olivo Barbieri, Courtesy the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

14 - Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People 2015-LR

© Olivo Barbieri, Courtesy the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

Hovering by helicopter above land and water, Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri gazes down at the coastline of the historic Adriatic Sea, where once the Romans and the Byzantines made their homes. From his perch amongst the heavens, he notices as throngs of tourists assemble and scatter in the shallow tide; they’re dancing, following the lead of some anonymous guide, and Barbieri is watching, transfixed by the bizarre ceremony.

The images in Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People, now on view at Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, were made last summer as the photographer surveyed some 248 miles separating Vasto and Ravenna. The photographs he captured of vacationers, absorbed in their own incomprehensible disco, have since been digitally altered; Barbieri chose to push the blue of the sea to its extreme, intensifying the uncanny quality of each beachside configuration.

In some of the images, Barbieri chose in fact to reduce entire bodies to white silhouettes, onto which we can project our own summertime memories. For the artist, coastline becomes a stage-set, the people its actors; everything is a performance, a modern-day rite. There’s undeniably a religious element to Barbieri’s pictures, but from so far above ground, it’s a fleeting one, impossible to unravel.

The photographer admits to drawing inspiration from the region’s rich history of folk dancing, but he also creates his own kind of iconography. These people are hieroglyphs, arranged to tell some indecipherable tale. It’s a story wherein modernity and antiquity collide; we are thrust not only onto the boundary between land and sea, but we also must navigate the precarious line that divides reality from fiction.

Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People is on view until March 19th, 2016 at Yancey Richardson Gallery.

06 - Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People 2015-LR

© Olivo Barbieri, Courtesy the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

07 - Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People 2015-LR

© Olivo Barbieri, Courtesy the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

08 - Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People 2015-LR

© Olivo Barbieri, Courtesy the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

 

10 - Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People 2015-LR

© Olivo Barbieri, Courtesy the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

11 - Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People 2015-LR

© Olivo Barbieri, Courtesy the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

 

15 - Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People 2015-LR

© Olivo Barbieri, Courtesy the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

17 - Adriatic Sea (staged) Dancing People 2015-LR

© Olivo Barbieri, Courtesy the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

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