These portrait busts line the road and are scattered throughout the park atop the Janiculum, the highest of the hills around Rome, and site of a key battle in 1849, where the Italian hero Garibaldi, massively outnumbered, held off the forces of the French for several weeks. I knew nothing about them or the history behind them when these images were made.
Historically, portrait busts were more general than specific; the heads of the emperors simply symbolized the power of the office rather than representing a particular individual. With these busts (and I have learned that there are hundreds of them around the hill, though I only saw and photographed the 70 or so along the main path that runs toward Vatican City) there was a strong feeling of being surrounded by specific individuals, with their own histories and personalities.
To that end, I decided to make formal portraits of them, trying to capture their chatacters, to photograph them as if they were living people rather than static stone. The resulting images occupy a weird intermediate space, second-hand (at least) representations of the dead made strangely more immediate by their photographic nature (the whole barthes-ian idea of the photograph making the dead and the living equally dead or alive.) The drama of this work comes from that tension between their lifelike nature and the traces of their reality as objects- spiderwebs, bits of dirt, the texture or staining of the stone.
78 Archival Inkjet Prints in two sizes, sheet size 5x7 and 16x20.