MELBOURNE, Australia — Cycling around the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, I noticed a small shop entirely covered in photographs: the shop-front, the door, the lintel, everything. I stopped. Was it the work of someone with an obsessive-compulsive disorder? Was it some kind of art installation? When I met Vittorio, the proprietor, I learned that this was a work of self-portraiture on an incredible scale.
Little displays are not uncommon in these old-fashioned shops and bars, where the business is also a kind of second living room for the owner. Vittorio’s shop, however, elevates this notion of personalization: Every vertical space, inside and outside his shop was covered in photos, cards, newspaper and magazine clippings — but mostly photos, most of himself. Selfies, in today’s parlance.
Last year his shop was featured in an exhibition at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum, on the role local businesses play in migrant communities. Vittorio now has photos of that event up on his wall, of course. The interest of the Immigration Museum and his approaching retirement seems to have inspired him to put more photos up and create his current photographic installation.
Vittorio is 75 years old and has been working as a barber out of the same shop for over 50 years. He immigrated to Australia in 1959 from the Sicilian town of Bucheri. His wife was from Palazolo, Sicily, and together they have 12 grandchildren.
“All the photos have a story,” Vittorio tells me of the images.
I can see Vittorio’s whole life story on the walls of his barbershop. It is better than any photo album or scrapbook. There are photos of his travels around the world: “Honolulu is the best place to relax; it is paradise.” Locally he supports Carlton Football Club, internationally Italy, and in Forumla1 Ferrari. He is a fan of Ricky Martin and George Clooney.
“I like to show the people the good things,” Vittorio explained.
These days Vittorio just comes to the shop three days a week to hang out. There is only a single barber’s chair, no customers waiting, and he has plenty of time to talk to people like me. In the past it was different and he had three chairs and a lot more customers. I apologize anyway; I haven’t had a haircut since the early 1980s. But Vittorio doesn’t mind, he is enjoying his eccentric image and the tourists, actresses, and especially the local comedians that come into his shop just to talk, take photos, and make videos. He points out photographic documentation for all of these events.
We talk until one of Vittorio’s regular customers, or old friend — or both — arrives. I thank Vittorio and continue on my ride.
Some have compared her album art to John Collier’s 19th-century portrait of Lady Godiva, but Beyoncé can channel her radical spirit without evoking Western art history.
With a fresh Ethereum wallet ready to scoop up freebies, I attended the world’s largest conference dedicated to that controversial wart on the Zeitgeist, the “non-fungible token.”
International audiences have free access to the media collections of MMCA Korea, Sharjah Art Foundation, and ArkDes through this subscription-based art streaming platform.
Hundreds of copies of the LA-based guerrilla poster artist Robbie Conal’s latest work, “Supreme Injustices,” were pasted up from Venice to Los Feliz.
This week, another reason to leave Facebook, who really invented democracy, and what is “Skimpflation”?
Convened by Erika Sprey, Lamin Fofana, Sky Hopinka, Emmy Catedral, and Manuela Moscoso, the public program unfolds this summer at CARA in New York City.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this month, including Pope.L, Beatriz Cortez, Mika Rottenberg, and more.
The acclaimed composer and noise artist talks to Hyperallergic about his Pulitzer Prize-winning composition “Voiceless Mass.”
The Bay Area art book fair is back this July with free programming at three different on-site venues, new exhibitors, and fundraising editions from renowned artists.
Her works, depicting objects from Korean markets, invite viewers to marvel at what can be achieved with fabric.
Salonen’s paintings point to a location in which reality is slippery, ill-defined — a dream or place of play.
The Ancient Egyptian tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, one of the most intricate in the Saqqara necropolis, shows the pair holding hands and embracing.