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The Bally Foundation honored Matteo Fieni’s commitment to exploring the potential and autonomy of photography as a way to relate and experience a referenced reality.
Matteo Fieni was born in Mendrisio, Switzerland, in 1976. He received his Photography Arts Bachelor’s Degree from the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Milan in 2001.
From the outset, his photography was at variance with the school’s mainstream commercial philosophy. He developed his own conceptual perspective of photography, focusing on the role and significance that the image takes on during the cognitive process, based on the premise that photography can reveal information imperceptible to the human eye, in line with the experiments of photographer Franco Vaccari.
He carried out further studies in Communication Sciences at USI (Università della Svizzera italiana), 2019, and was an artist in residence, among others, at the Swiss Institute of Milan and at the Cité Internationale des arts in Paris. He exhibited at Argos Project (Image Festival, 2000, Vevey, Switzerland) and La Fabbrica (2003, Losone, Switzerland).
Fieni received the Swiss Photo Award in 2012 for his reportage on communication and identity: "Good Morning, Lugano." He received the Bally Artist Award in 2013. Currently, he lives and works in Lugano.
Matteo Fieni began his oeuvre by taking portraits of passers-by willing to participate and share the philosophical message on human equality. In his work, "Ritratti Metropolitani," the artist affirms the centrality of the subject: the upright figure of a human fixed in a unique and unrepeatable instant and with precise aesthetic canons.
Matteo Fieni’s visual documentation has become increasingly focused on the relation between his subjects and the personal settings in which they live and move. His photography has crossed over into the fields of anthropology and ethnology, recording perceptions that might be missed by the viewer’s casual gaze in a cohesive exploration of the gap between perception and reality.
His research is at once a reflection on the nature of the act of photographing, the act with which the visual identity of the world is built and diffused in the technological unconsciousness.
"Ritratti Metropolitani" is a documentary project realized during the artist’s four-month trip through eleven European countries in 2014, after winning the Bally Artist Award in 2013.
This series, which remains a work in progress, comprises several thousand portraits shot in countries that include Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other Balkan countries.
Fieni photographs his subjects without posing, props or individual lighting. The neutrality of his gaze lets each subject’s individuality emerge naturally, subtly deepening his theme of integration and equality; we are all equal and deserve to be treated equally without individualistic treatments such as enhancement by lighting, retouching or framing.