Antonio Denti

Antonio Denti

PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris 2023 – State of the World
Curatorial Selection – The Longest Way Home

Can you briefly tell us about your background and what inspired you to pursue photography?

My path to photography was an apparently strange one. But only apparently. I started off as a social anthropologist, then went into documentary filmmaking and visual journalism and finally into still photography. The path is not so strange because the three activities really are three variants of one essential way to approach storytelling. Anthropology, documentary filmmaking and photography all require that you think the ways humans live are meaningful and worth being explored and told. Also, in all three cases, the defining condition is ‘’fieldwork’. You need to physically go to the humans you want to tell about and share at least some fragments of their lives. What changes is the form in which you decide to tell about the humanity you encountered: written text, film or still pictures. But they are three versions of one activity. Which is the activity I chose.

What drove you to submit your work to the Px3 State of the World competition and your thoughts on how being in the curatorial selection impacted your artistic journey?

I think Px3 State of the World is an excellent container of stories. It mirrors my idea that human events are significant in a way that enlightens on the human condition. So, they are significant to all of us. And this is exactly the spirit I saw in State of the World. As a whole, the collection of those stories – made with similar intent in the most diverse circumstances – become a patchwork that really enlightens about the state of our world.
Also, I think that in an age of great editorial challenges and crises for photography  where official editorial platforms don’t seem to have much room and interest to showcase photography, competitions – like PX3 – are filling an important void. They represent a great home for a lot of photography that would otherwise been unseen and unchallenged.

Could you describe any challenges you faced while capturing this moment (winning image/s)?

I was lucky to have been a news cameraman for over 20 years. This gave me – I think – a good experience and skill in getting access to places and people when I see the story is powerful. This always implies an awareness that we are intruders in other people’s lives and requires a respect for them and for their lives that overrides the importance we give to our photography. My experience has been, though, that if respect is genuine usually people grant you access to their lives and to moments of their lives that are important and sometimes crucial. Like in this case, where the Indigenous Canadians trip to the Vatican and the subsequent Pope trip to the Indigenous ancestral lands (the object of my photos), were very emotionally charged events.

What, in your opinion, are the most important factors in creating great images?

This question is impossible to answer for your own pictures I think. A lot goes into a photo, but I don’t think it passes through the brain. What I love in other people’s pictures is when a whole universe of meaning emerges through a visually powerful moment, where usually faces, gesture and light make an unrepeatable and unforgettable picture.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of photography?

The reason why I love photography is that to click you need to be in line of sight with your subject. This implies that you see the subject and share at least some of their reality (emotion, heat, cold, danger, tension, happiness). But it also implies that your subject can see you. This implies – as you are intruding their humanity – that you also face your humanity, your intentions, your weakness and your strength. That you are as human as they are. You also cannot hide if you want them to come out in the open. nThis requirement is what I love most about photography.

What motivates and drives your photography?

The fact that I think what happens to us humans is significant, meaningful. I never want to judge the humanity I photograph, or save it, or denounce it. I just think their lives are significant and there is always something in them which has a strong connection to me, and to our shared humanity. For me photography is simply one way to celebrate humanity – its lights and its darkness. Which are inseparable.

What’s next for you in your career as a photographer?

I think Artificial Intelligence will poise great challenges to the already challenged activity I love. I want to work to actively push for a greater evaluation and promotion of authentic photography, of field-based work, or real life documentary work. I have a few projects that I will pursue, some film-based, some still-photography based, many composite (stills, film and text). My great hope is that the editorial world (the publishers, the newsrooms, the museums, the production houses) will join to push for a more ‘’analogue’’, boots on the ground form of storytelling also to contrast the surge in AI and internet-led forms of visual narratives.