by Steve Bisson

As a young photographer you have approached thorny issues with personality. Tell us what has brought you to photography?

Gian Marco Sanna (GS): I approached photography at the age of 17 thanks to my father who gave me an old analog Pentax. I started to experiment from the very start. As a child I traveled a lot, the camera reminds me of those times when I was seeing the world from the car window. In 2012, after completing high school, I decided to study at the Roman School of Photography on a three-year journey to get to know the best of photographic media, from analogy to digital.

In 2015 I attended the DOOR Academy directed by Massimo Mastrorillo where I started experimenting with new documentary photography techniques, also attending workshops with several international authors. At this time I began the photographic work on the Malagrotta dump and I met Santolo Felaco who attended my course at the DOOR Academy, with whom I founded the LISA collective with Dario Li Gioi, with the idea of combining our knowledge gained in these years of study and to create new ideas and projects.L.I.S.A stands for look inside yourself and... Creating, daring, experimenting is at the basis of our philosophy. Our is a search aims to discover new visions, both inner and outer of the soul, out of the chaos of images that surround us.

You grew up in Rome, can you tell us something about your city?

GS: A giant metropolis, a total yet impossible city. We are overwhelmed by traffic and chaos. I think that to improve the situation it would be enough to have more respect for what surrounds us, the environment in which we live. It is inconceivable to assist such a deterioration as that of the Malagrotta, the disastrous dump site which is a symbol of incivility, even before an incomparable ecological damage. We should aim at enhancing our city, organizing multiple public events and campaigns to stimulate a new attitude through arts and dialogues.

© Gian Marco Sanna from the series 'Malagrotta'

Why a project on Malagrotta? Tell us about it...

GS: The Malagrotta project arises from the need to highlight a current problem such as environmental pollution in a forgotten and exploited area of Rome. I am a resident who lives near Malagrotta, I see the dump from the terrace of my house, so I took it as a challenge. Why telling distant stories when I have the largest dump in Europe just below my home? Right here every day they were discharged from 4,500 to 5,000 tons of waste.

I started taking some photos in the area and within a short time I was overwhelmed by that lunar and adventurous landscape. I could not help but keep on shooting, and discovering environmental damages caused by anthropic interventions. At first I photographed during the day, but later I decided to shoot at night, to show a parallel city made of smoke, fires and shadows accompanied by an unbearable smell and a dense, white cloud (the snow city).
With this work I wanted to report a serious environmental discomfort faced by the inhabitants of the area and the whole city of Rome. There are more and more cases of cancer attributed to the proximity of the landfill.

© Gian Marco Sanna from the series 'Malagrotta'

© Gian Marco Sanna from the series 'Malagrotta'

© Gian Marco Sanna from the series 'Malagrotta'

This series has had two editorial outcomes. First a self-produced zine and then the book, after your collaboration with Urbanautica Institute...

GS: Yes, more than one year ago, while working on the editing with the Collective L.I.S.A. I have produced a fanzine 'The City of Snow', now sold out. I then met Urbanautica Institute and we started working on the idea of making a book about this project. Along with him I have edited and edited the book step by step, until I got to the final publication. It's my first book, it was a formative and enriching professional experience, I think it's crucial to have a person helping you find the right direction...

© Images of the book 'Malagrotta' by Gian Marco Sanna

Again with Collective L.I.S.A. you did more projects. Tell us something about the project 'Pride'...

We like to work on fanzines, also as a funny way to play with editing on small projects. The Gay Pride in Rome has been a challenge. We only had one day to shoot. The Pride is so folkloristic, with those masked carriages full of colors. So we chose to use the flash to isolate subjects from the background and to enhance them. We are now collaborating with 9periodico graphic studio and hopefully the new fanzine will be released in the coming months!

© Gian Marco Sanna from the ongoing series 'Pride'

'Silent Forms' is your latest work in progress? Can you introduce us to it...

'Silent Forms' is a project started about 3 years ago. Photos were taken mainly abroad during some travels. The idea behind the work is to combine photography and modern architecture. For this I have involved my sister Anthea, who is an architect. We are finishing a fanzine, which will include photos in dialogue with the vector language elaborate through lines by my sister.

© Gian Marco Sanna from the ongoing series 'Silent Forms'

Book and exhibition you would suggest?

I like to read thrillers because they engage my imagination. Regarding the photo books I have a full library, I love collecting them. I recommend Takuma Nakahira's 'Documentary' for its editing, and 'Minutes to Midnight' by Trent Parke, truely fascinating how it deals with nostalgia and reality. I saw an exhibition of Caravaggio, I was impressed by his paintings and how the light touches the subjects and makes them alive. I believe that for a photographer it is always very interesting to study the great painters, they offer great hints for research.

As for the presentation of the book we will be in Paris on November 10th at Mi Galerie with Urbanautica Institute. And in December we are organizing an exhibition along with a book presentation in Rome.


Gian Marco Sanna 
book 'Malagrotta' published by Urbanautica Institute
urbanautica Italy