Luca Locatelli has named his long-term project The Circle. The series also represents the completion of a circle for the photographer himself: he has been dealing with the topics of the environment and the future for years, and so was able to tie The Circle into his Future Studies project, with which he won the Leica Oskar Barnack Award in 2020. Of course, the title has other levels as well. If you draw planet Earth, it is a circle. The sense of circulation is also included: using resources from nature and then replacing what has been consumed. The series was produced within the framework of an exhibition for the Gallerie d’Italia in Turin, a venue for art and culture inaugurated in 2022. It was an opportunity for the photographer to pick up the subject from a very different perspective and approach, and for the viewer to deal in depth with questions about the future.
What was the starting point when you began dealing with this subject?
The starting point was to talk about the best way to live on our planet, which is with circularity. I was just finishing an assignment about circular economy for National Geographic magazine, and I wanted to work on a project that would deal with it as a way of living.
You have been working on this subject for ten years. What developments did you observe over that period?
When I started over ten years ago, I was mostly chasing technological progress concerning how to fight the climate crisis. Since covid, however, my perception and that of many people around the world has changed compared to pre-covid. I was now more interested in exploring how we can actually find a balance with nature and put nature at the centre of the equation regarding the climate crisis, and stop considering that humanity is invincible. We shouldn’t continue with the same kind of approaches we had in the past, but rather be inspired by nature. I think that is the biggest change I’ve had during my career – shooting in a different way that is not only related to technology.
What developments can we observe in your work?
One of the biggest areas I was able to explore while developing The Circle was my visual language. Almost all my life I’ve dealt with an editorial environment. Now I had to fill up 5000 square metres of exhibition space. So I had the freedom to actually express myself without any limitations: the biggest development was actually to create cross-media content, involving videography, audio and photography, and put together a presentation about things in nature, that attracts and informs people about possible solutions.
The pictures are a mixture of nature and industry, aesthetically combined into one visual language. What connection do you see?
I think that is the most important aspect of The Circle: I believe that nature – and we are also part of nature – is already able to show us the way to create the best industrial symbiosis. My point with this project was precisely to photograph nature and technology, and to try and define a visual language where they communicate, in order to show that we can be inspired by nature for our industrial processes as well; so that we can recreate and regenerate the balance we have lost.
Do you see yourself as an artist or an activist?
I’m actually considered a visual activist, which I love, because I was born to be an environmental activist. Back in the early 2000s I was very involved in protecting the Amazon rainforest, and photography became a perfect tool for communicating the value of solutions, and that became a lot of the focus of my career: I care about the environment and I love the visual power of communicating solutions.
In addition to the exhibition at the Gallerie d’Italia, the work will be visible in the city of Turin and an app has also been programmed. Tell us a little bit about the project beside the exhibition itself.
My goal for the exhibition is to find a way to reach a wider audience. I hope that the approach will bring a lot of schools to the exhibition, so that youngsters become curious about the subject. I’m more interested in reaching young people, because they are the ones who have missed out most. I want them to be inspired and to understand that they are the ones who can bring about the changes to regenerate the balance on our planet.
Will you continue working on this project?
Of course, yes, because The Circle project was photographed in Europe, and I would love to continue it in other continents, such as Africa, and even Asia or America. One of the main subjects I’m actually developing for the new project concerns a safe nature. Nature is the biggest influence we have to fight the climate crisis.
Exhibition: Luca Locatelli, The Circle, September 21, 2023 — February 18, 2024, Gallerie d’Italia, Turin.
Find a comprehensive portfolio of Locatelli’s images in LFI magazine 1.2024.
Born in Italy in 1971, Luca Locatelli first studied Information Technology and worked as a software developer, before turning to photography in 2006. Within his work, he produces his stories in collaboration with journalists, environmental activists and scientists, so as to contextualise his own research. In 2020 his Future Studies project earned him the Leica Oskar Barnack Award. Find out more about his work on his website and Instagram channel.