The Mario Cresci exhibition in Valle d’Aosta

The exhibition at the Gamba Castle in Châtillon renews a thread that stretches over thirty years. The protagonists are the photographs that the Ligurian photographer dedicated to the rural and artisanal world of the Aosta Valley

The exhibition of Mario Cresci (Chiavari, 1942), curated by Luca Fiore, which opened the 2023 season of exhibitions at the Château de Gamba in Châtillon. The 20th-century building, which last year celebrated the tenth anniversary of its Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, houses the Autonomous Region’s rich collection, built up over more than sixty years through acquisitions, donations and bequests. Largely the fruit of the feverish exhibition activity of the exhibition office founded in 1984 by Anna Ugliano and directed by the Turin art critic Janus, who died in 2020. From one of these exhibitions from the 1990s Photographic journey inside the Aosta Valleywas inspired by Cresci’s new tripartite project.

Mon cher Abbé Bionaz, Mario Cresci, Installation view at Castello Gamba, Aosta Valley, 2023


I don’t do reportage, but I work in situations where I can come back‘ says Mario Cresci, invited to take part in 1990 along with other great photographers of the twentieth century such as Luigi Ghirri and Gabriele Basilico a research on the rural world of the Aosta Valley.
Mine is a slow photography composed of a shot and interpretation of a reality to be found the next day“. Sixteen of these photos, which immerse one in the “material culture” of a people, are now kept at Castle Gamba and pay homage to his history as a designer-photographer who sees the “process” behind the human being, the object behind each picture .
A lesson he learned in Basilicata, conveying the culture of design to students during a design course in Matera through his photographs, and which he revisited for the Valle d’Aosta photo campaign.

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Mario Cresci, Saint-Pierre, 1990 © Mario Cresci Archives
Mario Cresci, Saint-Pierre, 1990 © Mario Cresci Archives


But it shows Mon Cher Abbé Bionaz! Mario Cresci for the Aosta Valley, born with the intention of enriching the regional collections, has recently been enriched with two new pieces that will become as many exhibition strands. It happens when Cresci returns to this castle nestled in the mountains in December 2022 and comes across the images of the writer, hiker and photographer kept here Emile Bionaz (1862-1930), parish priest of Saint-Nicolas for 37 years: he fell in love with her and appropriated her, returning an updated version with the intention of rediscovering all these hidden gestures and giving them new meanings.
Thus the trumpets of the village band become known and the hat halo passes from one priest to another. The third part of the exhibition – located on the panoramic roof terrace of the castle, in the attic of the tower with a 360° view over the entire valley – is the result of the encounter with the objects dell’Artigianato Valle d’Aosta preserved in the MAV Museo in the Fenis tradition. Again, using the computer, Cresci redesigns rural toys and paraphernalia, transforming them into contemporary logos and icons. In A tribute to the ancient wisdom of Valle d’Aosta craftsmanshipwith a view to the future.

Claudia Giraud

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