The fourth estate, famous painting by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, was made to love by my art teacher in high school, and since it has been one of my favourite paintings: I used to go see it often when it was (ignored and abandoned) in Via Palestro in Milan and I was very pleased when it was given the merit it deserves, exposed at the beginning of the new twentieth century museum in Piazza del Duomo in Milan.
A few days ago we went to do an editorial in a small village here in Santo Domingo, of sugar cane harvesters, I was surprised, a crazy emotion: I found myself in some sort of time and culture trip, within that painting. I could live this life that I had always only seen from outside. I understand more deeply and much better the motivations that where behind that work of art.
All of a sudden a farmer with a large wound on his leg approached us. I asked him if there was a doctor or a nurse that could attend to him and he said no. I understood in that moment that the great medical facilities we have free of charge are not to be taken for granted, but an extraordinary privilege and a conquest.
I further understood that the perfect functioning school in that small town is not simply to study and learn things more or less useful, but a fundamental conquest, that by providing culture it gives freedom, empowerment and awareness.
I understood that the values of socialism which are the “theory” at the core of Pellizza’s painting, are inextricable values of our history: only our grandparents or perhaps our great grandparents lived in the society which was now in front of me.
Then you question yourself, the evening going back to the village where we are staying, seeing the modern and contemporary equivalent of those farmers, this new proletariat which comes at a thousand euro holiday, and exudes not only Caribbean heat but above it all infinite ignorance, infinite conformism (the little tattoo!!!), infinite emptiness.
It is inevitable to ask yourself if all this nothing is the price to pay for emancipation. If learning to read was to read about WHO. If free health care was to cure the eating disorders created by too many hamburgers.
Obviously I don’t have all the answers. I mostly like asking myself questions and taking photographs.
Having exhausted all the questions, after the job I decided to create my own personal tribute to the fourth estate, remaking it with photography. Among other things, the technique in which it was made is in some manner similar to photography, (divisionism) by making small dots with the paintbrush, similar to our pixels.
I therefore asked some people to come over, I placed them and photographed them, in ten minutes. This is my fourth estate.