To the Editor:
What is the subject of the front cover of the April 2018 edition of Chronogram?
The "On the Cover" byline bore absolutely no background for the subject. It is gratuitous for the writer of the byline as well as for the photographer. In the byline, I searched for some background on the subject. I only get his name, as if his name is stolen, to become the artistic "title" of the photo.
Taking advantage of this person's richness harks to an indigenous American posing for a prominent 19th-century photographer; with largely the same connotations. More than any bio or credibility about the photographer, I want to know why the subject of the photo is exploited, what his story is, where he is, what his aspirations are, what he regards as beautiful.
As portrayed on the cover of Chronogram, and out of context to the photographic documentary exhibit of which this is a part, it is gratuitous on the part of the photographer and the magazine, and without equality for the subject.
There is a photographic tradition of empowering yourself by capturing the immensity or compelling nature of a subject. Hip hop producers do exactly the same thing by sampling a famous and compelling passage out of a classic song in an attempt to fit yourself into the same echelon of greatness. In this case, unless there is a humble sense of respect, equal time and reverence for the subject, the photographer, and by association, the publisher has "stolen the soul" of the subject for their own artistic gain. Tino Yannitelli's soul has been stolen by the camera and its photographer's search for curiosity.
Was the photographer, and by extension the publisher, conscious of playing right into the tradition of "stealing souls" for their own artistic gain? I think not, and further, the self-aggrandizement seems to extend itself well into the "Marco Anelli: Building Magazzino" exhibition celebrating the Italian photographer's commissioned portfolio, which was on view at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York (October 4-November 2, 2017).
I always read Chronogram, and believe in its regional reach. The purpose of a magazine is to create a feeling that carries one into a sense of lifestyle and belongingness to that lifestyle. The front cover of the April 2018 edition betrays an obvious unconscious motivational ebb: to nurture a general ennui of cultural and social elitism that assuages the true, overwhelming pain and diseases of culture and society enough to keep the magazine creators and readers believing there is no giant white elephant in the room.
We are left with the front cover's compelling subject, Tino Yannetelli, with no explanation and no celebration.
I believe there is something to learn here. It revealed, as did the indigenous American portraits of the 19th century: what is the subject here? Tino Yannitelli and his incredible richness, or the manifest destiny of moneyed powers that call the shots in arts and culture?