ARTIST IN THE SPOTLIGHT | Alessandro Sarno
Welcome back to Cacique’s Artist In The Spotlight series - a journey into a thriving Bahamian art scene and a look at some of our most exciting artists, pushing boundaries on island and around the world.
Italian lensman, Alessandro Sarno aka The Lonesome Photographer, is a true aficionado of The Bahamas. His photojournalistic approach seeks to capture the “true true” Bahamian spirit, and as such his subjects are often “soulful” old folk or rambunctious youngsters who are less impacted by the presence of the camera. Alessandro’s work has a dreamlike quality, as if he is letting us in on something intimate - a fleeting moment to which we are privy - or in the words of avant-garde New York photographer Diane Arbus, “a secret about a secret.”
Cacique. How did you develop an interest in photography ?
Alessandro. I never really had an interest in photography until I came to The Bahamas for the first time in 2008. What started out as a short vacation transformed into a deep love for both photography and The Bahamas. Everything began with a little album I made as a thank you for a friend, Nigel Bower. People saw the album and told me that I had a very good eye. Little by little I gained confidence in my abilities behind a camera and off I went.
C. What do you try to portray in your work and how do you do this ?
A. I am, at large, interested in humanity within any situation. It is fascinating to watch and try to understand people and how they interact with their environment. I am particularly drawn to scenes of solitude or emptiness and how this is applied to contemporary life. I believe when a scene is captured in a photograph it becomes visual poetry where words are replaced with shapes, spaces, colors and shadows.
C. As an italian, what brought you to the bahamas ?
A. At the time I was living in Miami so I decided to visit the Bahamas as it is so close. I have always been fascinated by ex-British colonies, particularly in the West Indies. I was supposed to stay for one week but that quickly became two weeks, and then a month! I spent one week in Nassau and then went to Eleuthera. I vividly remember the intense feeling of excitement as we approached Governor’s Harbour. Everything I discovered in Eleuthera felt soulful. The quaint settlement, the harbour, the architecture, the people and the sea - it was so ingrained in my mind - all the beautiful colors and scenes - something I will never forget. This experience is really what inspired my book: “Eleuthera - The Garden of Freedom.” Ten years later I still find myself treasuring this first trip to Eleuthera (as well as the many trips that followed during this past decade). This book is a visual map/representation of all of these glorious memories.
C. Your latest venture, your photographic journey through eleuthera - what was the idea/ inspiration behind this ?
A. I am attracted to authentic scenes. I had the idea to create a book for each major island of the Bahamas . Eleuthera is my second after Cat Island. It was like going back in time if you think that ten years ago I visited for the first time. I would have never imagined then that one day I would have a book about Eleuthera. My hope is that people will see what I saw and fall in love with Eleuthera like I have. Beside from the coffee table book - “Eleuthera, The Garden of Freedom”, published by Nassau based Phiulautia Ltd, I have also made a travel guide to Eleuthera, “White Bull on the Highway”.
C.Why “lonesome photographer” ?
A. I consider photography my continuous travel companion. My artistic title, “The Lonesome Photographer” draws inspiration from the classic and lyrical road-less-travelled book, “Lonesome Traveller,” by novelist and poet, Jack Kerouac. My slogan “crystallized fragments of random beauty” perfectly captures the spirit of my photography. I borrowed the quote from another poet, Allen Ginsberg.
C. What is the most challenging subject to work with ?
A. Portraits of people are definitely the most challenging pieces to create. You really have to get close to your subject to understand how to accurately portray them. A portrait requires this interaction. It’s only by talking to the person that I can understand their personality to ensure they are captured authentically.
C. From behind your lens, how has the BAHAMAS CHANGED or PROGRESSED ?
A. You know, after years of visiting The Bahamas I think I have lost the ability to see it with fresh eyes each time. I always try to remember what it was like to see it for the first time. I am still attracted by the small details of everyday life and a little less so by the land and seascapes. That said, I have a very particular style, much like that of Roland Rose. I want to see an authentic Bahamas and have genuine experiences with people from these islands.
C.Which Bahamian artists are the most influential ?
A. I love Sofia Whitehead and as I’ve mentioned, the great Roland Rose. I also like Tania Delmonte who is an Italian like me. There are many similarities between Tania’s work and my own. I think it is because we see things through a similar lens. I think Sofia and Tania are the best ambassadors of modern Bahamian life and culture.
C. Where do you see yourself in 5 years ?
A. I don’t even know where I will be tomorrow! I try not to worry or think about this. But I can promise one thing, wherever I am I will have my camera with me.
At Cacique, we love to showcase our colourful Bahamian art scene and the characters that create its distinct flair. For more information on Alessandro Sarno, our other featured artists or to find out about curating a unique look and sound for your event, feel free to contact us.
Looking forward to the next chat! SMS:)