"I reconstructed images that followed me since I was a child. Of an Italy that I would have liked to have seen, but that no longer exists and perhaps never existed except in my own fantasy." —Paolo Ventura
Village Fair (Festa di paese), 2005, is from Paolo Ventura's War Souvenirs, his series of fictional World War II tableaux. Each image in the series features a detailed construction, meticulously designed and built by the artist. Some of the characters that inhabit the stage-like settings are toy action figures, others are made from fired clay; all are roughly the same size as Barbie dolls. Each setting takes about a week or longer to build, and is destroyed after Ventura photographs it. When Ventura was a boy in Italy, he spent time with his grandmother listening to stories and looking at family photographs from both World Wars. According to Ventura, 90% of the photographs sent home by European soldiers during WWII were taken in photographic studios, as most of the soldiers were too poor to own their own cameras. Ventura expressed the desire to enter these studio photographs and then exit out into the real context of the soldiers' lives. And so he places these wartime figures into his constructed streets and alleys; into death, loneliness, amusement, war, and desperate love--all in reduced, but realistic scale. Ventura seeks to deceive and create confusion between what we see and what we think we see.
Paolo Ventura (born in Milan, 1968) studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan in the early 1990s. His work has been exhibited internationally, including at Forma International Center for Photography, Milan; Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, France; Fotomuseum Den Haag, Netherlands; and Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris. Ventura is represented by Hasted Kraeutler, New York. He lives in New York City.