Enrico Federico Jest, pioneer of photography, in 1839 was the first to build a photographic device in Italy and he remarkably contributed to the spread of photography.
This small space takes its name from this personality and it’s located in the heart of San Salvario (Turin) – a neighbourhood that has been completely re-evaluated in the past few years, giving life to an energetic cultural turmoil both on a musical and artistic level. In this environment almost one year ago Jest was born – a magnet that attracts many stimuli from the contemporary photography scenario, thus becoming a meeting point and exchanging fulcrum. Jest, conceived by Francesca Cirilli and Tommaso Parrillo, in less than 40sqm hosts an exhibition and teaching space and a bookshop.
Let’s talk about planning – how was this project born and with what aim?
Francesca – Our starting point was to create a meeting point that could gather some of the many stimuli that enliven the contemporary photography scene on different reading levels. Our goal is certainly that of spreading photographic culture in Italy, both on an exhibiting and didactic level, keeping a broad and open point of view. The idea was born from passion but mainly from a specific objective. We felt an urge which was more collective than personal – overcoming that superficial approach to image reading.
Tommaso – We are interested in keeping a “horizontal” approach towards the reading of images, meaning that we want them to arrive to everyone, and being a small yet fluid space marries perfectly the nature of our project.
Talking about having a “horizontal” approach – is there collaboration on a territorial level?
Tommaso – To begin with, we are being hosted by Flux Lab association, with whom we actively share a co-working space in which Jest was born. Collaborating is fundamental for us and we hope to create a valid exchange network with our activities. We can say that we are very proud of our first year of activity. Of course, we would like for our flow to increase and in this case collaborations play a major role.
Your selection – exhibitions and book-wise – mainly focuses on Italian names and titles. Can you tell us why?
Francesca – Generally speaking, we never set limits to ourselves as far as style is concerned, but nationality wise we decided to start off by focusing on what was in our immediate surroundings – there are many Italian photographers that deserve to be more well-known. For example, the last show we had on was by a photographer from Turin, Federico Clavarino, who however lives abroad.
Taking the public into consideration, we would like to spread the culture around photography and there’s no need to look too much ahead for that; there’s plenty to take inspiration from just around us.
Image culture in Italy – what is it that we are lacking?
Tommaso – In our opinion, the field is still unripe locally speaking – that is why we are very much concerned with the teaching aspect.
Francesca – We live in a world made of images yet we are unable to read them, it’s the basic grammar we are missing! There is a lot of curiosity towards the medium, but not enough in-depth analysis.
Tommaso – I want to stress the fact that at this moment in time our public in mainly made by the same people – we are a niche that gives many things for granted. Let’s not forget that the “usability” of an image should be across the board.
Our usual final question – elevator pitch. You find yourselves in an elevator with a famous curator/art critic and you only have a minute to say something about your work..
For the all the things we have just discussed, in the elevator I would like to meet my neighbour and invite her to see our current exhibition – with an art critic it’s too easy.