I use photography because it is the medium that best depicts my vision of life, art and time. Although the final product is bound to a photograph or film, the work includes elements of installation, documentary and performance. A camera is used to record one moment in time that balances between memories, critical consciousness, and constructed commentaries, yet is a documentation of real events.
My artistic process starts with a staged scene in my studio or a site-specific location with whatever materials or found objects I need to complete the idea. In all my photo or video-installations, I strive to achieve an underlying seriousness to subjects of family dynamics-- specifically my relationship with my four sons, identity, religion, and social class through absurdities and satire. I include my family as the immediate subjects in the performance, since the staged events are filled with metaphorical reverberations of lived history and experience. My children’s central role in the work serves as an identifiable entry point for the audience.
Whether I choose to build a constructed scene or find an existing space, each scene that I create is a unique frame within a larger story. The positioning of the figures and objects, as well as the lighting, change until the scene is visually and conceptually how I want the work to be perceived by the viewer. My work often displays a sharp contrast in order to produce a sensation that makes the viewer both familiar and uneasy.
When asked about the irregularity of the margins in my work, I explain that there is a relationship between the apparent contempt for the materials and the reverence for the subjects of the imagery. I have always said that the subject is the most important part of my work. I understand that for people from photography backgrounds the technique of my work is very distracting to the content. My work is all about metaphor. The rough edges, irregular margins, erratic fixer stains, and haphazard tonal range are suggestive of the working-class way of life that my grandfather experienced when he came to America as an Italian immigrant. This set of values was passed down to my father and then to me in all of its eccentricities.
Technically, I could print what photographers would consider to be a perfect picture, but I would consider that to be imperfect. The seeming imperfections that you see on the physical print are similar to ways that I use the materials within the photograph. The props or devices I include in the images are made of paper, wood, tape and clay---simply because they are all mediums that are all disposable or re-usable. I have decided that it is more important for me to be myself and approach techniques and materials the way I do rather than jeopardize the integrity of my art by conforming to existing standards.