Guido Harari – Remain in Light
is a retrospective exhibition (at the Mole Vanvitelliana in Ancona, open until 6 November) that covers the fifty-year career of this great photographer. Over the years, Harari has used his camera to reveal the person behind the celebrity and the soul behind the icon of numerous artists, especially those in the music business. He has photographed musicians from Frank Zappa to David Bowie, Paolo Conte to Bob Dylan, and Vasco Rossi to Ennio Morricone. At the Mole Vanvitelliana in Ancona, over three hundred photographs, installations, projections, record covers and videos retrace Harari’s eclectic career while also celebrating the century of rock.
Let’s start with the title of the exhibition, Remain in light. This clearly puts light at the heart of the art of photography.
The title had been running around my head for a while. I also had another idea, You Want It Darker
, that looked at light from the opposite perspective, and comes from the title track on Leonard Cohen’s last album. It is a record I listened to a lot, and it had a significant psychological effect on me that kind of focused the post-production of the photos for the exhibition and the book. In the end, Remain In Light
won over, partly because we were exiting the most critical stage of the pandemic. Remain In Light
is not just the words a photographer uses to coax a restless subject back into the light cone they have prepared. It is also a prayer that the memory of this moment will not evaporate or be swallowed up by the darkness we live in. Saving memories of people and a period is one of the missions of this exhibition, especially in a liquid age where everything withers and disappears so quickly.
You see that a lot in your portraits of certain great artists. Lou Reed once said, “I’m always happy when Guido takes my picture because I know it will be a musical picture. And it will also have some poetry and feeling to it. The things that Guido captures with his portraits are, generally speaking, ignored by other photographers."
Yes, I have always been extremely interested in getting to know the inner character behind the celebrity. I knew, even as a kid, that I didn’t want to just be a fan experiencing records and concerts passively, because the artists I loved brought culture and inspiration. It was photography, my other great love, that showed me the language and tools I needed to get closer to them. Many of my subjects understood immediately that photography wasn’t a job or a profession for me. I was cultivating a level of sensitivity and empathy that went way beyond the professional aspect. This is true not only for musicians, but for all the people from the worlds of culture, show business, design, fashion, sport, business and science who have posed for me. It’s a global embrace.