Lorenzo Vitturi: ‘I am honoured to be a part of this show at such a critical historical moment in Britain.’
PUBLISHED: 10:22 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:22 04 March 2019
As we inch ever closer to that March 29 deadline, and tensions between Brexit’s warring factions seem to somehow get even worse, it feels like we really need Somerset House’s upcoming Kaleidoscope exhibition.
Announced in February and set to open in June, the exhibition’s mission statement is to “explore what it means and how it feels to live as an immigrant – or a descendant of immigrants – in Britain today.”
They’ll do this by showcasing the work of 10 photographers from immigrant communities around the UK. One of them, Lorenzo Vitturi, puts the colourful and diverse and bustling Ridley Road at the heart of his section – titled Dalston Anatomy.
“Being an immigrant with mixed roots, I feel very close to this exhibition on a personal level,” he says.
“Also, the element of travel, the encounter of different cultures, their movements in urban spaces, and their continuous transformation are crucial elements in my work.
“And I am even more honoured to be included in this show at such a critical historical moment in Britain.
“When I moved to London about ten years ago, I encountered openness and great cultural diversity, which made me want to stay. Now the atmosphere is changing – and it’s essential to have an exhibition that shows that Britain is itself a mix of multiple ethnicities and voices from different cultural backgrounds.”
Born in Venice to an Italian father and a Peruvian mother – and with German heritage in his DNA, too – Vitturi begun working on Dalston Anatomy in 2010 and first published it in 2013.
The project combines portrait photography with abstract sculptures made up of objects which he gathered at the Ridley Road Market. It is inspired by the rich cultural variety of that marketplace, and Vitturi has taken it on an international tour over the past four years ahead of its return to London.
“The market is an example of how different communities and cultures – mostly Middle Eastern, West African, White British from the East End – can live together,” adds Vitturi.
“After living in the area for seven years, I saw that the neighbourhood was changing quickly, so I decided to focus on the market to capture its energy and stories before it transformed completely.
“After taking photos of locals, vendors, and sculptures made with products and objects found at the market, I published them in a book. I then went back to the market with my own market stall, every day for a month, to show the works to the people of the market.”
And so Dalston residents will be able to see Vitturi’s creative take on this vital part of their community on show throughout the summer, for free, alongside a number of other important photography projects.
Projects like Heartbeat by Seba Kurtis; a collection of portraits he took of migrants being held at UK detention centres. The name comes from the police use of heartbeat detectors to spot people hiding amongst cargo as they attempted to enter the country.
Also a part of Kaleidoscope are Chris Steele-Perkins – who studied families from 200 countries of the world who chose to settle in London – and Rhianne Clarke, who presents a retrospective of photographs taken by her Dad of his Caribbean community in London during the 1970s and 80s. The pictures were only discovered after his death in 2014.
Kaleidoscope is by no means London-centric, either. Hetain Patel’s The Jump features a gathering of 17 British-Indian family members at his grandmother’s home in Bolton, where they have lived since 1967. Billy Dosanjh’s Year Zero: Black Country, meanwhile, centres on migrants of his hometown of Smethwick back in the 1960s.
So why is it so important for the subject of Vitturi’s Dalston Anatomy to thrive?
“Because from a geographical point of view, this market is a vivid manifestation of how people from different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds can co-exist,” he replies, passionately.
“From a personal point of view, Ridley Road Market is the place where I discovered the sounds of Afrobeat, the beauty of handmade Afghan carpets, different recipes from the Caribbean and jerk chicken, Nigerian snail delicacy, an East Ender’s stall with 15 different types of eggs...”
“In some way, it becomes an island of resistance out of the big distribution, an exception to high street imperialism, a place for social exchanges.”
Lorenzo Vitturi’s Dalston Anatomy is part of Kaleidoscope, which opens at Somerset House, WC2R 1LA from June 12. More details here.