by Ivan Quaroni
We live in a hyper-photographic era, in which this practice, invented just over a hundred years ago, and once reserved to specialists and enthusiasts, has become so widespread that it constitutes a tool for validating the experience of millions of people. Every moment of our life, in fact, whether important or insignificant, is immortalized and shared almost immediately on social networks, as if it were the piece of an autobiography by images and, together, the tool to verify our experiences. "There is even a characteristic expression," as Valentina Tanni rightly observed, "now part of the language of the web, which well expresses the existence of this residual confidence in the probative capacity of photos: Pics or it didn’t happen (if you don’t have the photos, it means it didn’t happen)" . On the contrary, there is, however, a professional photography that can be variously understood as an art form, as an advertising tool or as a means of documentation or reporting. The work of Emanuele Ferrari takes on some characteristics of both the amateur and professional dimensions, sharing, that is, both the relationship with digital technology and social media typical of post-photography, and the authoritative and experimental character of contemporary artistic research.
As we read in many articles and interviews dedicated to him, his name has been included for two years in a row among the twenty most influential international photographers on the web according to the WIP Index, which measures the degree of popularity of characters who use the Internet as a communication tool, even third in the fashion section, after two giants such as Mario Testino and Terry Richardson.
Emanuele Ferrari has collaborated with important brands such as Fendi, Diesel, Nike, Coca Cola, Moschino, Krizia, Fila, Liu Jo, Calzedonia and Marc Jacobs, publishing his photos on the pages of Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ, Max, Rolling Stone, Icon, Purple and El Pais. It was, however, thanks to Instagram that his art reached an unprecedented level of notoriety, guaranteed by the more than 408 thousand followers on his profile. Ferrari, in fact, immediately understood the potential of the network in the field of communication, learning to deal with a community of enthusiasts who then followed him in the discovery of the world of NFTs and certified photography on the blockchain, of which today is one of the most original protagonists.
Born in Milan in 1975, Emanuele Ferrari, as he has repeatedly stated, has come to photography for play and passion. His studies have nothing to do with learning the techniques of the eighth art. After the Scientific High School, he almost graduated in Economics and Commerce, but then abandoned to devote himself to work first as a computer scientist then, finally, transforming his youthful passion for photography into a profession. His first amateur shots were taken with an old Minolta on film during the middle school period. Later, when the passion for photography resurfaces, like a karst river, in the mature age, it becomes a practice to be learned on the field and refined with the experience and study of the great photographers of the past and present. As a true self-taught person who has gained a reputation thanks to his work and dedication, but also thanks to his joyful and irreverent spirit, Emanuele Ferrari argues that photography schools are useless and that to learn you just have to follow your passion until you find your own style. Perhaps it is precisely his freedom from the constraints and rules of classical photography that makes his language so fresh and sparkling.
It seems, in fact, that amongst his shots Ferrari prefers those in which the extemporaneous character emerges, which reveals a hidden, surprising or unexpected quality of the female image. His approach, especially in personal production, unrelated to any commercial client, is antithetical to that of the so-called staged photography, which would like to reproduce the naturalness of reality with a "reasoned", "prepared" photograph, literally "staged" as a theatrical setting or a film set. Ferrari chooses, instead, to show us a more imperfect reality, the one we grasp, even for a fraction of a second, when we are immersed in the flow of life: a pose, a gesture, an attitude that reveals all the beauty that lies outside the canons of advertising lexicon, within the folds of everyday life. A daily routine that is also the professional one of shooting, in which the photographer performs hundreds of shots, which then scans with obsessive meticulousness, to select only those that correspond to his personal gaze. Emanuele Ferrari’s photography is expressed in two stages. The first is that of bulimic image capture, which requires attention, but also intuition, speed, alertness. The second is that of the choice, of the analytical screening of images, an apical moment in the definition of his style, which discards everything that is conventional, to bring to light new aspects of feminine beauty. In this, the photographer from Milan seems to inherit, while changing it, the lesson of great masters such as Harry Peccinotti, Richard Kern or Terry Richardson, who have unhinged the rules of erotic photography, immersing it in the ordinary dimension of everyday life.
Emanuele Ferrari does not consider himself an erotic photographer, perhaps because he explains the female body through a series of elisions, caesuras, and exclusions of expressive details such as the face and eyes of the girls he photographs, that would risk defining and circumscribing the identity of the subject, leaving little room for the imagination of the viewer. This is how some of the works recently acquired by the Poseidon DAO collection are born, such as Breath and Skin, Hide and Seek, Loosing Something, Wet Town and My Own Way, where the absence, subtraction or partial concealment of the models' faces forces the observer’s gaze to focus on the expressive power of the body, which thus becomes a form that is variously readable, no longer bound to a particular physiognomic identity, and therefore, open to different interpretations.
Ferrari wrote, almost programmatically, a maxim that perfectly clarifies the meaning of his photographic research: "Showing is boring... hiding is sexy". That is to say that beauty and seduction are found more in what is omitted than in what is shown in an image. Shots like Pois, Room or Berlin Morning work, in fact, as devices that activate the imagination and that arouse unexpected beats in the heart of the observer. Because it is true, as an old saying goes, that "malice – but also beauty, according to Oscar Wilde – is all in the eyes of the beholder".
Ferrari's photos, in fact, "seduce" in an etymological sense. The verb "seduce" comes from the Latin "seducere", which means "to pull aside", "to separate", "to lead away". And with his research Ferrari leads us away above all from the banality of visual communication, out of the semiotic pollution that crowds every corner of our cities, ideally drawing us aside, in a place where it is still possible to look at an image, without feeling visually assaulted.
The photographer manages, more than other colleagues, to create a relationship of complicity with his audience, to lead him, that is, in a territory where the retinal enjoyment, the pure optical pleasure aroused by the image, is associated with joy, to fill in the gaps, to fill in the absences, to interpret the omissions. This does not mean, however, that his photographic imagination is exclusive or elitist. Quite the reverse! Emanuele Ferrari is a pop photographer, who disseminates his shots of references and allusions to the imagination of mass culture, which is then the perimeter in which the game of recognizability of a style and its ability to speak to a wider audience of people is played. Just look at works like Bad Habit, Belly Bottom and Superbowl to understand that the aesthetic universe of the artist is not at all outside the boundaries of pop culture, but that, rather, research within that system of references of immediate decipherability the form perhaps more refined and experimental. His arrival in the world of blockchain - with the first Unseen Collection project, made up of a hundred unpublished polaroid that show details, fragments and moments of backstage, transformed into 1:1 NFT and then burned – is also a demonstration of his willingness to explore the potential of photography in an innovative environment, which not only offers unpublished economic opportunities, but also defines new models of use. In a short time, Emanuele Ferrari managed to bring his visual imagery to the most important showcases of so-called crypto art, that is, to the SuperRare and OpenSea marketplaces, where he was immediately successful. The twenty works that entered the collection of Poseidon DAO, represent a extract of his imagination, perhaps the best way to learn (and then deepen) the work of one of the most important exponents of photography in the era of NFTs.
 Valentina Tanni, Memestetica. Il settembre eterno dell 'arte, 2021, Nero edizioni, Rome, pp. 42-43.