Rosaria Sabrina Pantano won the Open competition's Architecture category with her black & white image of 38° Parallelo, a pyramid-shaped sculpture by Mauro Staccioli which stands at the exact point where the geographical coordinates touch the 38th parallel. She shares her experience...
'The joints of the steel, made incandescent when exposed to the sun, resonate when the temperature of the metal drops, restoring cosmic sounds, vibrations of knowledge.'
This image was taken in Sicily, Motta D'affermo, in the province of Messina, in the summer, during a trip out of town with friends. The title, Emotional Geometry, is linked to the intrinsic meaning of the subject and its location.
The work owes its name 38th parallel to its location: a hill in the territory of Motta d’Affermo overlooking the sea and the Aeolian islands. In the background are the archaeological excavations of the ancient city Halaesa, the coordinates of which exactly centre the mathematical consistency of the 38th parallel. By naming his work, the artist translates the abstraction of the earthly measure into creative metaphysical perception and seals the intrinsic link of the work to the geography of the place.
Partially sunk in the rocky territory, it has a crack along the western edge which makes its positioning in the specificity of the place and in the cosmic space even more precise.
Like an introverted lighthouse, an aware witness of the cyclical and irreversible passage of time, it captures sunlight through the crack, recording the luminous reverberations from its zenith to sunset in its geometric belly. The joints of the steel, made incandescent when exposed to the sun, resonate when the temperature of the metal drops, restoring cosmic sounds, vibrations of knowledge. The concept of immortality, notoriously related to the pharaonic pyramid, is replaced by the more responsible concept of transience, through which life is celebrated in its incessant yearning for eternity.
The inside of the pyramid can only be visited on the 21 and 22 June, coinciding with the Summer Solstice – the days when the hours of light exceed those of darkness. I was walking around the pyramid for a few hours. It was very hot and at sunset rays lit the brown steel red, giving even more power to the pyramid. Thirty metres high and composed of a hundred corten steel plates, the pyramid is a magical vision. In addition, suddenly the creator of the work arrives with some people inside a van and tells us that we are lucky enough to enter the pyramid. So, we went through an underground tunnel. I cannot describe the emotion I felt.
I used a Fuji X-T1 in manual mode. I was tuned into the whole moment, I was in the right place at the right time. The power of nature, light, sculpture and photography resonated together. I saw the very small person at the foot of the pyramid, the side visible to me which was completely black and the dirt road that I was preparing to go up to, it seemed to me a springboard towards infinite space. You have to be there to understand the spirituality of the place, the essence.
Many people wondered about its presence, what is a pyramid doing in Sicily? Why was it built? I believe that photography must above all tell what is not seen, it must push the viewer beyond the pure vision of appearance.
As soon as the newspapers started talking about my victory in the Sony World Photography Awards, the citizens of the village of Motta D'affermo (600 inhabitants in all) were celebrating. But all of Sicily welcomed this news with enthusiasm.
This image has not been sent to any other competitions, I rarely enter contests. It was kept inside my harddrive, nobody had ever seen it. I happen to take pictures and keep them for myself. Already last year I participated in the Sony World Photography Awards and I entered the street category with an image of a tightrope walker in Turin.
I am a teacher and photography is my passion, I normally photograph what surrounds me or the places I see when I travel. I believe that beauty is around the corner and above all it appears when we least expect it. I always have a camera in my bag, precisely because beauty presents itself to me when I am not looking for it and the unexpected is always a wonder. My win has made me and others understand that photography belongs to everyone.