Location: Scuderie Ducali, Piazza San Romano 4
Opening times: Monday – Thursday 3pm – 7:30pm / Friday – Sunday 10am – 7: 30pm
PHILIA. THE HIGHEST FORM OF LOVE.
Ancient Greeks used the term Philia (φιλία) to talk about friendship, that brotherly bond that is established in a relationship of complicity, fellowship and shared values – more simply, “the highest form of love.” In an interview to Rolling Stones, Susan Sontag explained that she passionately loved people she wouldn’t sleep with at all, describing friendship as “a tremendously passionate emotion, and it can be tender and involve a desire to hug or whatever, but it certainly doesn’t mean you want to take off your clothes with that person.”
Friendship is made of that rare unconditional feeling that we often look for in a love story. It’s a relationship cultivated with perseverance and dedication that needs time to grow and mature; there, leaving behind interests or fears, the “I” gives way to the “we.”
There are friendships that are nurtured since childhood and last a lifetime, like the one recounted in The Boys (powerHouse Books, 2020) by Rick Schatzberg who, in his early seventies, after the disappearance of two old friends, spends two years portraying the rest of the group with whom he shared his childhood and adolescence. But relationships are established even in adulthood, as shown in Isadora Kosofsky’s Senior Love Triangle (Kehrer Verlag, 2019), a documentary project that viscerally immerses us in the lives of three older people, making us reflect on the complex and ambiguous nature of interpersonal relationships.
It also happens that what begins as a simple relationship between a photographer and his subject becomes a true friendship. In Gioele, il mondo fuori (Der*Lab, 2021) Fabio Moscatelli, while working on the theme of autism, becomes a friend and a traveling companion to Gioele, witnessing his transition from adolescence to adulthood. In Hernie & Plume (The Eriskay Connection, 2020), Katherine Longly becomes friend with Blieke and Nicole and, playing with prejudice, tells the story of this party-loving couple.
Nowadays, friendship finds a precious ally in technology: in I Had a Dream You Married a Boy (Longer Moon Farther, 2020), the pandemic makes impossible the trip to Sweden that Valerie Philips planned to visit her friend Arvida. So they decide to undertake that trip together, but online: Skype and FaceTime allow Valerie, through a series of videocalls with her friend, to immerse herself in dark fairytale forests while staying quietly in bed. Furthermore, Tanjia Hollander, in Are You Really My Friend? (Mass MOCA, 2017) photographed her 626 Facebook friends in real life throughout a five-year journey in which she immersed herself in the lives and communities of both close friends and strangers (who are friends only virtually), delving into the differences between our analog and digital lives.
Philia aims to recount some of the possible declinations of friendship through a selection of more than 20 photographic books, allowing an intimate and personal contemplation of the projects thanks to that medium that by its nature has always been an authentic space of photographic expression: the photobook.