SOME/LIFE : 'GIANLUCA FELLINI' PHOTOGRAPHER, ARTIST & YOGA PROPAGATOR
Charlotte Robert. Gianluca Fellini, you have more than one string your bow - photographer, video director, artist at wide, yoga propagator - where are you from?
Gianluca Fellini. I’m originally Italian - I was born there but I consider myself as a child of the world. I’ve been travelling a lot and to me the planet is our home. Everywhere I go I feel home and I feel I can connect with the place. I am often disappointed with how small people see the world generally - not really considering it on a wider scale - this is really sad because it doesn’t take into account where the world is going to I believe. If the mentalities are still too narrow to embrace all we have in hands, we can not really change the world at our own level.
C.R. What mainly brought you to photography?
G.F. Originally I was dedicated to basketball and surfing, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I believe that’s how you learn a lot. My life changed one day, when I had an experience with death in Indonesia. It brought me to almost drowning and I remember the moment very clearly. The dark beauty of that experience brought me to a certain amount of images - like you see in movies. I was concentrating in trying to send messages out with my brain and heart to the people I care about - I was basically thanking my mum & dad. Since I survived to that, I started to approach photography because those images I saw were so vivid - their power really fascinated me. So I grabbed a camera and decided to face the most difficult conditions - being to me New York City. I already had been there on a previous travel and I had felt a huge amount of energy. Which at that moment I ignored if it was good or not to me. From the day I got there, I was going out every night and walking around every day - taking pictures all the time. For me it was never enough - I needed to learn. And I basically learnt a lot from getting back to humility. I was a bass boy as first job in NY. Not even a waiter. Although I was coming from a very lucky position in my city - studying law, living in a nice house, making money with basketball, everybody knew me there. But I did not feel honest to myself with trying to become a lawyer in a nice suit, with a hot girlfriend and fancy car. I needed to change my direction. Photography somehow was a key point for becoming myself.
C.R. And how did you go from being a bass boy in NY then, to becoming a full time artist?
G.F. After a couple of months in NY, I was dealing with 3 jobs - still being a bass boy but I was also an assistant photographer and a promoter at night. This last job helped me to get to know many more people, make money and have fun. After a couple of months it started to drain me very much - I was stuck as I was seeing my friends getting spoilt from the easy life. We were working for high-end people as it can go so fast in NY to go from a side to another. I was still focusing on fashion photography as it was the easiest jobs for me to get. And one day I got a phone call from Italy, from an agency of which main client was an Italian high-end kitchen maker - I had never done interior design and was very surprised they thought about me, but the job was paying well and I always had interest for architecture. So I accepted, I made researches and just tried to melt into the aesthetics of the pieces I had to shoot. The director was extremely pleased with the result and this experience was a real luck to me. Architecture is one of the most present things in our lives. And from this first test, I started to approach any kind of photography: objects, lifestyle, landscapes, designs …
C.R. Where does this sensitivity for photography comes from?
G.F. It comes first from the fascination of the tool itself. My dad used to be a hobby photographer - so as a child I would open his equipment cases as treasure boxes. Someday you realize that you have something in your hands that helps you to interpret what is around you and also to look around, to slow down, to admire what is so obvious and the fact that life comes and goes very quickly. Then my dad told me something that it took me years to understand: "read the light". At that time it was not obvious for me to see lights - you know light creates shadows but that was all I could get. Then finally one day your brain understands it. You have to guess the light, to read it backwards by interpreting the shadows. After I could manage the technique by shooting a lot and talking to other genius photographers, I went through another kind of doubts. I realized how difficult it is to blend your mind into technology and adapt it to the sensation. That is what I am now trying to perfectly achieve. Because once you blend the two elements, you understand that a camera is a very powerful tool you can hold in your hands.
C.R. You have now decided to show your art whether before you created on your own and almost never showed it. Which evolution did you come through, which metamorphose lead you to open your creations to a public? How did Camilla - your partner at life and work - influenced this decision?
G.F. Definitely Camilla is a very powerful presence behind me, she gives me strength. Being alone really stands for little I think. When I was alone, I recorded experiences inside myself and was living strongly - but when I met Camilla, I understood that if you share it with somebody you amplify the effects. I really started to take confidence into my work when I showed it and heard from the outside it was good. But yet I was not ready inside. My practice of yoga really helped me to detach from the vision of the other people. Progressively I got to the evidence that the meaning of art is to share. Sure I still feel that real art happens during the process of creation - the fatigue, the effort, the work you put in it - once it’s done there is nothing else you can do but share it to open the point of views around. Art has a really important goal from humanity - showing things from a different perspective.
C.R. Spirituality is very important in your life. When did it exactly become a lifestyle? Where does your taste and interest into yoga was born?
G.F. I started when I was 26. Very inconstantly at the beginning but then, I was feeling the benefits of it, things were definitely vibrating on a different level. Now I am a yoga propagator and I practice it everyday. It came from a meeting in India, a propagator offered to explain me the basis of yoga. It is something you share, you do not teach it - as yoga is meant to free yourself. Even though now it became an international business. The essence of it is not an obligation. We brought it to extreme through society but yoga is a balance - if you do it everyday, it is of course the greatest thing you can do to your body but the body needs to rest. And the yoga is a very physical thing. You relax, you’re getting in touch with your senses and then you can go in through pauses that are difficult and handling them with no struggle. So basically you are not supposed to do any efforts.
C.R. Can you talk to us about essential meetings in your life? We know that Camilla is one of the main certainly - but who have been your role models or inspirational minds/behavior to build you as a man and artist?
G.F. Obviously it’s my family - my dad and my mum first. I learnt from my dad the dedication and responsibilities. Even though I’m not that responsible; but if something has to be done, it doesn’t matter what, I would stand up for like 36h in a row and will make that done. Though if I can avoid it, I’d rather prepare myself before. I really admire my dad and the courage he has, the choices he made. His life was the first big lesson of mine. Even though as a kid I was lacking of attention on his part because he is a baker so he works at night and sleeps part of the day. He was not really present, but he compensated by allowing my mother not to work and to take care of us. From my mum I learnt style, beauty. She is a very elegant woman. She used to wear Yamamoto and very structured pieces back in the days. All in black, always. You should see her wardrobe!
C.R. Do you see black as a color ?
G.F. I think it is the absence - the edge of the color, the door to something new. But it also contains the most amount of energy and informations because it is full. Space is all black, we can’t perceive anything but it is definitely not empty. On the feeling of emptiness there is much more emptiness than in the universe itself. But it all comes from how we decode the datas and turn the information into light. That’s I think what the work of an artist is, to interpret, to perceive things differently than what we apparently see. To me every human being is a potential artist - we just have to find the proper extension to our soul and to allow it. Once one really completes himself in what he is doing, that’s a form of art - it doesn’t matter if it’s bread, a photo, a window or if you cut hair … It’s just how honest is what you’re doing within your soul.
C.R. You also created with Camilla a company called Blue Dream - in which you develop narrative content inspired by the environment and people that surround you two - can you comment a bit more on the ethos of this project?
G.F. When Camilla and I met, I instantly felt she had a very similar sensibility to mine. Right away we started a 7 days trip in the US. We were inspiring to each other - for the first time I would feel comfortable in front of a camera, which was easier for her as she is also a model. We rejoined on the point that travelling is part of the world in which we live and we thought we could create a company on this basis. We started with a video of Camilla by the beach with high panties from an american company we actually love. I always make up my stories of what I have in front of me or around, improvising and taking time to be filled with inspiration. Plus collaborations between artists - and we mainly work with artisans - are very important to us - it’s fun to mix up your knowledge with other people.
C.R. Do you feel you will always be a traveller?
G.F. I definitely want to find a more stable base, at least for few months but one of my main intents is to keep on travelling for all my life.
C.R. How much of Italy do you carry with you?
G.F. Attachment to my family, respect to it and food! For the rest, I used to have bad habits of the Italians - the sneaky ones. Being: embodying the ones who are extremely loud, who complaint a lot, who don’t act regarding their complaints. Actually with French we’re cousins!
C.R. What would be your greatest luxury in life?
G.F. Time - cause it is what really is unexpectable, what really makes this experience of life unique. We can actually slow it or fasten it by the perception we have of it. Time is also a feeling. Time is my biggest Master.
Photography by Floriana Castagna & Text by Charlotte Robert | S/TUDIO