Concept 2020


Stories, rules, inventions

Fantasy is the freest of the faculties; in fact, it doesn’t even have to concern itself with what it has thought up. It’s free to think anything, even the most absurd, incredible, or impossible things. Invention uses the same technique as fantasy – that is the relation between the things one knows, but it aims it towards a practical use” Bruno Munari


Fantasies. Stories, rules, inventions: creativity is a serious game. This is the theme of the 2020 edition of Fotografia Europea, curated by the Scientific Committee of the Fondazione Palazzo Magnani – composed by Marco Belpoliti, Vanni Codeluppi, Marina Dacci, Marzia Faietti, Walter Guadagnini, Gerhard Wolf – under the artistic direction of Walter Guadagnini.

Fantasy is also the creative power of photography, which has often been instinctively connected to faithful and realistic reproduction of reality, while it is actually capable of the most unbridled fantasies, as it is shown by its history generally, and its recent one especially.


Photography emerged in the middle of the positivistic age, but was constantly accompanied by an aura of magic. At the same time photography was also the child of the same romantic culture which gave life to the paintings and visionary thoughts of the so-called “painters of the imaginary”. It was at the time that the idea of the fantastic as center of the creative process is affirmed, as shown by the success of a genre of literature which, in addition to giving birth to absolute world masterpieces – such as the tales of E.T.A. Hoffman, Theophile Gautier, E.A. Poe, among many others, served “to question the relationships that exist, in every historical era, between the paradigm of reality, language and our strategies of representation“, as Remo Ceserani wrote.

A remise en question that is among the primary characteristics of photography and that subsequently reached its extreme manifestation with surrealism, a movement in which photography takes on a central role precisely because of its ability to create a dialogue between different levels, let them be cognitive and interpretative, of reality and dream.


Fantasy, therefore, as the ability to create relations through its techniques, its grammar, and therefore its rules (and the transgression thereof). It is through such rules that the fantastic process is communicated, allowing for its transformation into speech and, finally, into storytelling.