From 22 June to 30 September the exhibition at the National Museum of Ravenna

Roberto Masotti’s work was patient and meticulous; a work that began before the shots – it began, rather, with his interest in music, especially research and experimentation music. To the ‘photographer of music’ who passed away last year, Ravenna Festival dedicates the exhibition You Tourned the Tables on Me, curated by his life and photography partner Silvia Lelli. Following the flood that affected Lugo, the exhibition – which should have been hosted by the Pescherie della Rocca in Lugo – has been moved to the National Museum in Ravenna (via San Vitale 17), thanks to the collaboration with the Direzione Regionale Musei Emilia-Romagna. From 22 June to 30 September, the National Museum hosts one hundred and fifteen portraits of contemporary musicians ‘with table’. Between 1974 and 1981, an old and battered piece of furniture, purchased in a Roma camp on the outskirts of Milan, became the co-protagonist of a photographic journey that only a visionary, tenacious and ironic spirit such as Roberto Masotti’s could conceive with the complicity of his subjects – from Juan Hidalgo to Philip Glass, from Luciano Berio to John Cage, from Michael Nyman to Steve Lacy, Demetrio Stratos, Brian Eno…The exhibition is made possible by the collaboration with Assicoop Romagna Futura and Edilpiù.

The vernissage is on Wednesday 21 June at 18, on the occasion of the International Music Day (entrance: via Benedetto Fiandrini): at 19 Luca Maria Baldini presents We still have hands, a tribute to Meredith Monk – whose portrait features in the exhibition – and her Dolmen Music, an experimental and visionary composition on which Baldini (electric guitar and live electronics) enacts micro-variations that symbolically suggests the logic of grafting.

“It is obviously wrong to write ‘tourned’ instead of ‘turned’, as I do in the title. I ascribe this ‘conscious’ mistake to the round shape of the table, but it may also refer to travelling (‘tour’). This project I obstinately worked on for eight years made it necessary for the object to travel across different European countries, over and over. I was driven by a clearly irrational instinct (just think of the inconvenience), but also irresistibly drawn in by the ‘new music'”: this is what Roberto Masotti wrote for the foreword to the photography book You Tourned the Tables on Me, which had become almost impossible to find before the new edition promoted by Fondazione Ravenna Manifestazioni with seipersei editori last autumn.

The battered, dilapidated table entered Roberto Masotti’s life on a sunny afternoon in May, almost fifty years ago; it was bought from Roma people who traded iron scraps on the outskirts of Milan. Incidentally used for the first time as a prop for Fluxus artist Juan Hidalgo, the table is the common item in a series of portraits whose title was taken – with a variation from turned to tourned – from that of an old Broadway song Billie Holiday loved to perform. Every musician was invited to browse through all the previous photos that had been selected and to freely choose how to act around the…co-protagonist. Just as the table travelled across Europe, so did Masotti blended in among the nomads of sound, continuously crossing borders, exploring the unknown new lands of music.

Because Roberto was there, before many others; there where music was happening or was about to happen. This was possibly his greatest skill. Starting in the early Seventies, he and those he photographed breathed the same air: taking pictures of music is not a matter of capturing the moment, but of freeing it, letting it resound and expand beyond the boundaries of the shot, tell a story (a score) which has already begun and has not reached its end yet. By bearing witness of an extraordinary season of creativity, Roberto left a lasting mark, which keep living through his every photography but also in the memory of those who knew him and worked with him – Ravenna Festival included, since he often collaborated with the Festival, also at his wife Silvia’s side, also, but not only, because of the everlasting tie to Ravenna, their birthplace.

Info +39 0544 213902
National Museum ticket: 6 Euro + 1 Euro donated to charities related to the recent flooding events in Emilia-Romagna, Marche and Toscana (reduced rate 18-24 yo 2 euro +1 Euro; up to 17 yo: free admission); general free admission on the first Sunday of the month and on 23 July
Opening times Tue-Fri 8.30-19.30, Sat-Sun 8.30-14; first Sunday of the month and 23 July 8.30-19.30

The photo book You Tourned the Tables on Me can be purchased online (50 Euro – shipping to Italy included)

Seipersei edizioni ISBN 9791281174009
You tourned the tables on me
Photographies by Roberto Masotti / Lelli e Masotti Archivio
Texts by R. Masotti, Franco Masotti, Daniel Charles
Biographies and discography curated by Roberto Valentino