ADZERO (English)

Categoria: Esperienze Pubblicato: Sabato, 26 Dicembre 2020 Scritto da Max Angeloni

(Anno Domini ZERO)

Text and photos by Max Angeloni

Translated by Pietro Todaro

The significant problem is this. If you ask 100 people to describe how they imagine the "Nativity of Jesus" you will get 100 different answers.
Religion, history, customs, and traditions have always been blended into one another and overlapped in a perpetual motion thus making it difficult to describe an event, skimmed of all non-essential things.
Only two Gospels recount this event: Matthew and Luke.
And the two narratives only agree on a few points.

That Jesus was born in Bethlehem at the time of Herod the Great, Joseph and Mary were the parents, an angel announced the birth of the child who will be called Jesus and will be conceived by divine intervention.
And then... that's it.


Annunciation - Fujifilm gfx 50S, GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, Iso 250, f/16, 1/125

In short.
According to Matthew, the annunciation is made to Joseph by an angel. For Luke, the angel addresses Mary.
Luke states that the birth of Jesus takes place in Bethlehem because his parents leave Nazareth due to a census. Matthew instead suggests that they already lived in Bethlehem, therefore excluding a voyage.
And then… for Matthew, Jesus is born at home, while as per Luke's narrative it took place in a manger.
Luke writes that Jesus is adored by the shepherds, but nothing is mentioned about the Biblical Magi. On the contrary, according to Matthew, the Magi are present, but there is no mention of the adoration by the shepherds. And to finish this (incomplete) summary, according to Matthew, after the birth of Jesus, the holy family fled to Egypt to escape the persecution of Herod, Luke does not make the slightest mention of all this.
And, therefore?
What happened to all those elements that we imagine and take for granted in a nativity scene. This is difficult to answer.


Nativity - Fujifilm gfx 50S, GF 23mm F4 R LM WR, Iso 400, f/14, 1/125


With the Protoevangelium of James (mid-second century) some elements are added such as the cave, the ox, and the donkey. While for the comet, we have to wait until 1301 and for Giotto's hand who inserted the passage of Halley's comet in his painting (Scrovegni Chapel in Padua).
One could go on for hours to list all the elements that over the centuries have overlapped on the initial stories.
But so much so that trying to reconstruct such an event by trying to remain as faithful as possible to the facts is impossible.
Because of this reason, in the making of ADZERO, we decided to work essentially on three points:
The perfect historical concordance of all the elements present in the scene.
Deepen the psychological aspect of the protagonists.
Creating settings that were capable of combining geographical compatibility with the figurative tradition.


Flight into Egypt - Fujifilm gfx 50S, GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, Iso 400, f/14, 1/125

For the historical congruity of all the elements present in the scene, as always Vincenzo Ricciarello and Massimo De Clementi took care of the clothing and accessories that were either created, recovered, or adapted.
The result was that on the set, it indeed felt like one was teleported back by two millenniums.

To rough out the profiles of the characters, we thought of Mary as a very young girl who submits to a divine will, with the grace and determination that only a mother can have. For the angel, an ethereal figure, the intermediary between heaven and earth able, with its light and its divine beauty, illuminates each scene.
All of this under the constant watchful eye of Joseph. Who is always silent but never absent. Indeed, the silence is that of a father striving to achieve the protection of his family.
This task was made possible by those who, as always with affection and passion, decided to join the project with enthusiasm.
Gilles Rocca embodied a perfect Saint Joseph, bent under the weight of his enormous responsibilities.
Silvia Sera a divine angel capable of illuminating the scene and the future of humanity.
Ludovica Galli a very young girl who becomes the mother of the Son of God and mother of all of us.


Mary - Ludovica Galli - Fujifilm gfx 50S, GF 110mm F2 R LM WR, Iso 12800, f/2.2, 1/125


Angel - Silvia Sera - Fujifilm gfx 50S, GF 110mm F2 R LM WR, Iso 12800, f/2, 1/125


St. Joseph - Gilles Rocca - Fujifilm gfx 50S, GF 110mm F2 R LM WR, Iso 12800, f/2, 1/125


Shepherd - Massimo De Clementi - Fujifilm gfx 50S, GF 110mm F2 R LM WR, Iso 12800, f/2, 1/125


Peasant - Silvia Ricciarello - Fujifilm gfx 50S, GF 110mm F2 R LM WR, Iso 12800, f/2, 1/125


For the locations, however, we absolutely needed a big hand from the sky. This help from the heavens materialized through my friend Claudio Pisani and from the mayor of Calcata, Sandra Pandolfi.
In addition to offering the patronage of the municipality of Calcata (VT), they allowed us to shoot inside one of the most evocative villages in Italy. In addition, Claudio took charge of the entire logistical organization impeccably.

All this, just to explain how important planning, collaboration, the choice of people, and the choice of the right photographic equipment are when tackling such a complex job.
In photography, as always, there is no need to take 1,000 photos in search of the right pose or hope that the right photo will come out from the pile.
The longer the shooting session is, the more tired all the participants in the project will get.
The real work, the hard work, takes place before and after. The moment in which we photograph must always be a moment of joy because it is the moment in which a project, fruit of a great passion comes to life... our passion: photography.

For those interested in technical data, the triptyque (Annunciation, Nativity, Flight into Egypt) was made at 400 Iso and three 600 Watt Flashes to obtain the best possible result in terms of dynamic range, cleanliness of the file, and detail.
The portraits instead were taken in ambient light and 12800 ISO to obtain a "rougher" and warm result that went well with the representations of characters who lived over two thousand years ago.
Work is done with Fujifilm GFX50s and Fujifilm GF Lens system lenses.

That's it... is there something else?
A yes that's right. Merry Christmas.


Fujifilm gfx 50S, GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, Iso 640, f/13, 1/125

Max Angeloni: Photographer
Gilles Rocca: Joseph
Silvia Sera: the Angel
Ludovica Galli: Mary
Massimo De Clementi: Shepherd
Silvia Ricciarello: Peasant
Valter Ventrone: Photography Assistant

Costumes and historical congruence: Vincenzo Ricciarello, Massimo De Clementi
Location and organization: Claudio Pisani
Patronage: Municipality of Calcata
A heartfelt thanks to the Mayor of Calcata, Sandra Pandolfi, a great friend who once again became a promoter of the art of photography.

Ricostruire, adattare, interpretare… dall’imperatore Claudio a Gesù di Nazareth.

Historical reenactments are a fascinating world. They allow you to capture in a photograph an instant that took place centuries… millennia ago. They allow you to recreate a historical or religious moment or revisit a work of art. I love this photographic genre.
A photographic genre in which the shot is undoubtedly only one of the thousands of aspects that must be foreseen and planned.
It's a team effort and definitely requires synergy. Synergy not only from a strictly professional perspective but also as far as imagination, creativity, and being a foodie is concerned.
That right, having a good appetite.
I have always been a firm supporter of the uselessness of thousands of meetings, brainstorming, and the usual rigmaroles. Especially when it comes to art and creativity.
The most beautiful things are imagined and invented at the dining table. There is nothing more creative than good company around a set table along with a good glass of wine or an ice-cold beer (in moderation of course).
And it was during a dinner, at the end of 2012, that with friends Vincenzo Ricciarello and Massimo De Clementi, while recalling previous historical reenactment did the idea of a new photographic project come to us for the Christmas in Rome of the following year.
DCCC ab Urbe Condita, Or rather 8 centuries after the foundation of Rome, when the emperor Claudius introduces the celebrations for this event for the first time.


from: DCCC ab Urbe Condita - Fujifilm X-M1, XF 23mmF 1.4 R, Iso 800, f/2, 1/125

After 3 months of preparation (shooting dates, organizing of the dozens of evocators, roles, costumes, texts, make-up) the project, which became the photographic work for the launch of the Fujifilm X-M1 in Italy, took shape.
We obviously celebrated with a delightful dinner. And what happens at dinner if, in good company, we find ourselves around a table set with a good glass of wine or an ice-cold beer (always in moderation, please)?
The answer is obvious… one instantly thinks about the following project.
From the Christmas of Rome to the Christian Easter was just a small step.
The preparation process was essentially similar. But while there were plenty of armors, uniforms, and accessories of legionaries, the preparation of the clothing of Jesus, those of the Apostles and the Pious Women, as well as the uniform of the temple officials took a long time. As well as all aspects of the cross and crucifixion. Historical concordance is the common thread of all the works and even this time we tried to be as plausible as possible concerning what we have been told for almost 20 centuries.
In the end Via Crucis – Way of the Cross came to... light.

from: Via Crucis - La via dolorosa - Fujifilm X-T1, XF 56mm F1.2 R, Iso 800, f/2.5, 1/125


Since 2014, dinners have become more infrequent, because of common problems like cholesterol, hypertension, triglycerides, and so on. Hence carrying out such ambitious projects has become a little more complicated. On the other hand, it is well known that without "hard and demanding business meetings" it is difficult to carry out any idea.
But so be it.
It took a few years of pseudo-diet and, above all, a proposal from the painter Ippazio Campa to which we could not say no. Thus, we found ourselves around a dinner table once again. The project was nothing less than the reinterpretation of Caravaggio's "Vocation of Matthew." A work sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
From the final shot, the painting that would be exhibited in the cathedral of St. Matthew in Salerno would be born.
So we pretended to have solved our cholesterol, hypertension, triglycerides, etc. problems, took paper (greased paper napkin to be precise) and pen, and got back to work.
This time we needed something that would allow us to make a further qualitative leap.
In addition to the confirmation of the wonderful Makeup Artist Mara Genoese for the make-up and the maestro Andrea Camilletti for the original score, we needed two professional actors for the main roles.
Fortunately, friends always respond “present”, thus Mauro Ermito became Jesus and Umberto Salamone St. Matthew. Last but not least, his friend Valter Ventrone also joined the group to give a further fundamental hand in the creation of this project.
Clearly, this work involved the use of many more resources, and as always, Fujifilm Italy did not back down and has never backed down in the past. Thank you again.
And thus Mt 9: 9-13 was born.


Mt. 9,9-13 - Fujifilm gfx 50S, GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, Iso 125, f/14, 1/125


That experience gave us many things, and of the countless things, there is one above all. It made us aware of an ineluctable fact that... we would never have solved the problems of cholesterol, pressure, triglycerides, and so on. So why not take the opportunity to prepare another project?

ADZERO… the origins.
"So... what are we going to do?... Pass me the bruschetta.” "I was still thinking of combining sacred art and historical re-enactments."... "hmm yes but ... cough cough ... oh god I was choking... pass me the water" "the grilled skewers really good ... what were we talking about?" "I was thinking something regarding Christmas" "Are you going skiing this year?" "No, I don't know how to ski ... I was talking about photography ... of Gabriel ... pass me the cheeses" "Gabriel .. where is he ... is he here? I haven't seen him for a while" " ... what are you thinking I was talking about Archangel Gabriel ... oh well, I'm tired ... the bill please!" “Yes, it's true...overworking is not healthy”.