Finale Ligure is a small vacation town on the Italian Riviera, along the coast near France. We flew from New York to Nice, France, and then drove 90 minutes, through Monaco, crossing over the border into Italy.
I am usually working as an advertising photographer in New York. I was shooting video loops in Europe, and it was a great time to bring my 1-year old daughter, Aria, to visit her Italian grandparents, who still live in Finale Ligure.
"That one time I was out of the office"
"That one time I spent an hour debating the subtleties of olive oil"
"That one time I finished the internet"
The harsh midday sun was blindingly bright on the mellow pastel buildings, sandwiched between the beach and tall mountain cliffs. I was immediately overwhelmed by the history and the colors, since many of the buildings and the streets were built during the Middle Ages.
As you could imagine, the town revolves around the local fish market, pasta-makers, and tiny cafes. The Mediterranean experience here is a slow pace, filled with meals of branzino fish or octopus, and then later in the evening tiny cups of espresso with nutella gelato.
"That one time I asked if you could hear me now"
"That one time I wouldn't ask for directions"
As part of my ongoing Instagram project, "A Selfie a Day Keeps the Doctor Away," I have been filming surreal infinite video loops of myself doing everyday actions from the point of view of an advertising photographer. While in Finale Ligure, I had the chance to film a few local residents as well. The character, screen-presence, and authenticity of style were just too great to ever be recreated.
Driving around on old Vespa or motorcycle, the pale pinks, oranges, and greens of the buildings came to life in the brisk January air. A resident told me the buildings were originally painted these colors to reduce the harsh glare of the sun coming off the ocean. It definitely felt mellower than the unrelenting streets of Santorini, which are intensified by an entire town of bright white concrete.
That one time I met myself in the future
Press Play on the video loops below:
Medieval stone castles, fisherman's boats, and old churches made New York feel like its design was, in some strange way, only an afterthought. Babies playing in the sand, old men debating in the town square, teenagers smoking on the promenade lined with palm trees, all made me feel like I was a Fellini film that came to life.
My 1-year old daughter Aria enjoyed the salty wind, and ran wild through the empty streets of town chasing after her grandparents. It was her first plane ride, and of course her first time going back home to Italy. I love the desolate feeling of Finale Ligure in the winter, since it is typically considered a summer vacation town where the white-sand beaches are completely obscured by sunbathers. To me, a beach in the winter always has a quiet otherworldly quality to the violent serenity of giant crashing waves in infinite repetition.
I think that's also the mood beneath many of these surreal video loops.
I'm often filming everyday situations that are extremely ordinary, but then creating a conflict that grabs you by the throat. It's almost as if something is so ordinary that is becomes extraordinary.