In the field of multimedia arts, Martino Nicoletti’s work is mainly focused on the combination between photography, experimental video, creative writing and performance. Aside the publication of photographic books and multimedia works printed with commercial publishers, and presented in the “Word” section of this site, a large part of his work took shape of artist’s books, short videos, public performances as well as photographic works displayed in solo and collective exhibitions in Europe, Asia and US (“Bio” section).
From the very visual and stand point, Martino’ activity is mainly characterized by a radically “primitivist” approach, based on the use of ultra-vintage devices and techniques (e.g. box cameras, pinhole photography, Super-8 film…): beyond the aesthetic aspect, this specific choice was inspired by the conscious desire to bring the production of images within the framework of a slow and unobtrusive approach to reality.
This same option – programmatically related on a drastic limitation of control over the “photographic act” and cinematographic shooting and their outcomes – also aims to lead image production toward the vast territory of “aleatory”: an approach enabling the photographic device and the same camera to express, without any impediment, all their inner and autonomous spontaneity.
From the domain of certainty, therefore images come back to that one of pure “chance”, with all the risks and the possibilities which may result from this approach: a radical visual primitivism chosen as a privileged way to free the gaze and make possible the emergence of inner landscapes.
– MARTINO NICOLETTI, LES ROUTES D’EAU, Paris, Éditions Le loups des steppes, 2016
An artist’s book devoted to Venice and created thanks to a combination of poetry and analogue photography.
The book was printed in a signed and numbered limited edition of 2 copies.
– MARTINO NICOLETTI, WATER MEMORY: AN ORPHIC POST-MORTEM JOURNEY, Paris, Éditions Le loups des steppes, 2016
– MARTINO NICOLETTI, BANGKOK SKYLINE: SIX PHOTOGRAPHS PLUS ONE, Paris, Éditions Le loups des steppes, 2016
A rare photographic artist’s book devoted to the city of Bangkok, printed in a signed and numbered limited edition of 50 copies. The B&W photos contained in the artwork were taken by the author with an old 6×6 analogue camera of the early 1960s. The choice of this specific vintage visual media was inspired by the desire to bring photography back into the framework of a slow and discrete approach to reality.
In Bangkok wind never arrives. Here houses are high and numerous and you don’t see where they end. If you desire to feel a gust of breeze, you, then, have to take a car and go out from the city. To go faraway.
– MARTINO NICOLETTI, ORFEU TRA I POPOLI FANCIULLI, 2011
An artist’s book devoted to the travel of Orfeo Pagnani in the Himalayas, friend of the author and director of the Exòrma publishing house.
– MARTINO NICOLETTI, INTERREGNUM, Paris, Éditions Le loups des steppes, 2016
An artist’s book dedicated to the memory of author’s father, Giorgio (1926-2010). The volume has been printed in Bangkok by Parbpim Ldt. in a limited edition of 83 numbered copies.
Glasgow, 4 maggio 2010
Qualche tempo fa ho pensato: Once we were warriors. Now we are only ice, slowly melting: “Una volta eravamo guerrieri. Ora siamo soltanto ghiaccio che si scioglie lentamente”. Poi ho capito che esiste una breve età degli eroi. Breve, ma mai conclusa. Breve, ma sempre a disposizione. Un tempo eternamente acerbo, che è uno stretto e fulmineo squarcio, che può essere attraversato per traghettarsi dall’altra parte del fiume.
– MARTINO NICOLETTI, SUBMERGED LANDSCAPES: A PINHOLE PHOTOGRAPHIC TALE, Bangkok, Parbphin LDT, 2010
Inspired by an ancient pagan myth, the artist’s book, through a selection of analogical pinhole photographs, narrates the tragic love story between the fascinating aquatic nymph Agilla and Prince Trasimenus, son of the powerful Etruscan King Tyrrhenus.
Background of the oneiric work is Trasimenus, the gorgeous and vast lake of Italy’s Umbria region as well as the original abode of Agilla.
The book, printed in Bangkok by Pharbim Ldt. Part., has been published in a limited edition of 99 numbered copies.
“Seen from the depths of the water, sunbeams appear just as shining reflections. Water is not only matter: it is a fluid kingdom, to which one may or may not belong. Earth is not only an element: it is a pulsating territory, to which one may or may not belong. Fire is not only a substance: it is a living realm of which one may be part, or not. The same is true of the air, if one knows anything about it. Penetrating elements or merging with them is a rare ability. Love can help. In some circumstances, premature death can also help. Sometimes. Penetrating, merging; even crossing. Bring lightning into your breast. Be blind. Keep a flame in the exact centre of your heart and follow it. A blissful blazing blindness”.
– MARTINO NICOLETTI, Leçons des ténèbres, Bangkok, Parbphin LDT, 2009
An artist’s book devoted to the abyssal metropolis of the Himalayas. Fragments from the travel note book of the author, encounters, poems, tales, visions, accompanied by a rare selection of black and white photographs.
The work, printed in Bangkok in 2009, at Parbhpim Ldt. Part., is published in a numbered limited edition of 108 copies, each enriched by a personal artwork of the author.
The same work is also available in commercial edition, published and distributed by One Editions, a Thai publisher specialised in contemporary Asian literature.
SHORTS AND VIDEO
– Martino Nicoletti, WATER MEMORY
Inspired by the texts of ancient Orphic gold tablets and created thanks to the combination of pinhole photography and music, this cine-poem present a visionary narration of an initiatory afterlife: a solitary soul is depicted dialoguing with its old memories and fighting the relicts of its past, placed between the risk of extinction in the abysses of nothingness and the possibility of continuing its journey to be finally re-united with its divine luminous principle beyond time itself.
Water Memory (2014). Directed by Martino Nicoletti, sound track by Roberto Passuti. Artistic collaboration Angelo Fanelli. UK. Stenopeica, 5 mins.
– Martino Nicoletti, MEKONG REFLECTIONS
Shot with a Super 8 cine-camera, a cine-poem devoted to the Mekong river and to Champasak area in southern Laos.
Mekong Reflections (2013). Directed by Martino Nicoletti, sound track by Roberto Passuti. UK. Stenopeica, 3 mins.
– Martino Nicoletti, I MUST NOT LOOK YOU IN THE EYES: THE ZOO OF THE GIRAFFE WOMEN
This super-8 short, shot in Thailand, is devoted to the ethnic tourism among the Kayan minority. Known worldwide for the traditional female custom of wearing a long coiled brass necklace aimed at causing a considerable extension to the neck, the Kayan are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group originally from Burma.
Due to the prolonged civil war in their own homeland, a large number of Kayan recently fled from Burma to refuge in neighbouring Thailand. Here, over the past years, in response to the “incisive” tourism policy promoted by the Thai government in the northern areas of the country, some families, abandoning the refugee camps where they were hosted, have been resettled in several new villages open to tourists, on payment of a modest entrance fee. Here the Kayan, their culture and their daily life, have been transformed into an authentic tourist attraction capable of drawing about 10,000 visitors a year.
Founded on a strictly “visual media primitivist” approach, the short presents a sharp gaze on a less-known form of human exploitation.
The short is available in a double edition, English and Italian. The Italian editions contains an extremely rare artistic interpretation by the singer Giovanni Lindo Ferretti.
Non devo guardarti negli occhi: lo zoo delle donne giraffa (I Must Not Look You in the Eyes: The Zoo of the Giraffe Women) (2011); Directed by Martino Nicoletti. UK. Stenopeica, 6 mins;
– Martino Nicoletti, THE NINE DOORS
The Nine Doors, by Martino Nicoletti. A cinepoem inspired by Hesiodean myth of the god-like race of hero-men.
A work devoted to the memory of Romano Mastromattei, master and friend of the author.
The Nine Doors, UK, 8 min., language: English/Italian, Production “Stenopeica”; © Martino Nicoletti, 2010.
– Martino Nicoletti, KULUNGE SUPER 8
The eye of an old super8 camera offers an oneiric interpretation of the world and the life of Kulunge, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group, settled in one of the remotest areas of East Nepal.
A rare contribution to the most radical cinematographic primitivism in digital age.
Kulunge Super 8: a film by Martino Nicoletti; 7,50 mins.; camera, editing and original sound track by Martino Nicoletti; Production Stenopeica (Bologna, Italy), 2010; © Martino Nicoletti, 2010.
– Martino Nicoletti, CHÖD: THE SACRIFICE OF THE SELF
In the heart of the Himalayas a few rare practitioners – followers of Bön, the ancient pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet – undertake a long ritual pilgrimage through the “power places” of the Dolpo region: sacred sites inhabited by mountain deities and water genii; wild places infested by ferocious demons and dangerous ghosts.
In a universe perceived as a delicate interaction between human beings and the invisible forces that inhabit the cosmos, the main purpose of the pilgrimage is to placate local spirits, thereby repairing any cracks that might have appeared in the relationship between these two worlds. The journey is also often undertaken as a means of warding off dangerous epidemics or as a specific form of exorcism.
As the pilgrimage unfolds, the cho-pas, having attracted the spirits’ attention with wildly provocative acts, evoke their presence by playing magical musical instruments: trumpets made from human femurs (kangling) and hourglass-shaped drums (damaru) traditionally made from human skulls.
The central focus of the pilgrimage is the performance of a meditation ritual of self-sacrifice: the “chöd” (lit. “cutting through”). The officiants, after having invited a whole host of invisible beings of varying status to gather, visualize their own body being totally dismembered by a female divinity of wisdom (dakini). The remains, ritually transformed into pure substances and a “nectar of immortality” through the power of meditation, are wholly offered to the invited invisible guests during a ceremonial banquet.
Beyond its significance as a sacrificial offering to local spirits, the chöd reveals profound philosophical meanings connected to the notion of “universal compassion” (bodhicitta). In this sense, the sacrifice represents a rare opportunity to set incorporeal sentient beings on the path towards supreme enlightenment and total liberation from the never ending cycle of births and deaths.
In an even deeper sense, the ceremony, by the mystical offering of oneself to invisible guests, enables practitioners to radically sever their attachment to their physical body and to overcome their identification with their own illusory ego: the last and most powerful of all illusions.
A film by Martino Nicoletti; 2008, 6’; original format: Super8; camera, direction, texts: Martino Nicoletti; video editing and original sound track: Roberto Passuti; Production: Stenopeica(Bologna, Italy); © Martino Nicoletti, 2008.
– Martino Nicoletti, NEPAL: APRIL 2006. A RHAPSODY FOR A MISSED REVOLUTION
In April 2006 a violent civil war brought about the fall of the monarchy in Nepal – the last theocracy in the World – and led to the setting up of a democratic regime.
The statue of King Prithvi Narayan (1723-1775), the founder and emblem of the Shah dynasty which had unified and ruled Nepal from 1768 up to 2006, is hidden from the eye. But it has not pulled down.
Only a few months will pass before the monument is given back to the citizens and to the flowers garlands of the monarchy’s supporters.
A film by: Martino Nicoletti; 4’,20’’ (DVcam); music: François Couperin, Leçons de ténèbres; production: Orange, Spello (Italy), 2008; © Martino Nicoletti, 2008.
– Martino Nicoletti, LANDSCAPES ENJOYED FROM THE TOP OF A SEVERED HEAD
Through the convulsive images of a short video clip an unusual outlook is offered on the abyssal city of Kathmandu.
Landscapes enjoyed from the top of a severed head. A short by: Martino Nicoletti; 7’ (DVcam); production: Orange, Spello (Italy), 2002; © Martino Nicoletti, 2002.