Porno Stars or Painters, for me they are all the same
by Stefano Pistolini
Ten years ago he worked at Fiat. Then love at first sight with the lens, followed by rapid success. Nowadays he amuses himself by taking photos of the maestri of color and the divas of hardcore.
A strange story, that of Roger Corona, 44 years old, photographer. He was born in Marseille to Italian parents and did not so much as touch a camera until the age of 33. He was a tranquil Fiat manager at the Tuscany branch. His love of the lens exploded with a bang when his former wife gifted him a reflex camera. A short apprenticeship, and then a leap in the dark. He gave up everything, moved to Milan and became a professional photographer. It was the right choice. He is specialized in beauty, body and still-lifes. The magazines Gioia, Max, Amica, Biba, Photo France and Newlook were added to his list of clients. Commercial success did not satisfy his ambition entirely.
In 1992 at the Rotonda della Besana in Milan, a solo show of his was dedicated to Don Mazzi's rehabilitation program for drug addicts. Sixteen photos symbolized the step-by-step return to life of an addict. This year, he has taken a sabbatical year to dedicate himself full time to a twofold project. They are two endeavors far apart in intent that Corona labels the holy and the profane of his production, uniformed by the black-and-white he favors.
The first project will debut on 18 November in a gallery in the capital of Lombardy with an emblematic name, Tribeca, like the neighborhood in New York City that hosts transgressive art.
The show is called "Io e Io" or "Four-Handed Portraits by Roger Corona with Twelve Great Artists from the Area around Milan":
"The idea came to me one evening at the home of a painter. An alliance between photography and painting instead of the usual antagonism. I'd photograph 12 painters and ask them to treat the photo pictorially and reinterpret themselves."
He did not have to wait around for the adhesions of Getulio Alviani, Gianni Bertini, Agostino Bonaluni, Eugenio Carmi, Lucio Del Pezzo, Franco Grignani, Ignazio Moncada, Bruno Munari, Tullio Pericoli, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Emilio Tadini and Luigi Veronesi.
"I believe narcissism was the main driving force, but I think that all of them shared my idea: to enter into the same soul twice."
In addition to the treated portraits, Corona will display another four pictures of each artist, in enrichment of the photographic analysis of their personalities.
In his marking of his portrait, Bertini projects his image onto an oneiric nocturnal background in which erotic turmoil is left to emerge.
Munari lights up a multicolored fire exactly in the middle of his chest.
Bonalumi geometrizes the sources of vision, hearing and the polarities of the mind.
Alviani illuminates a subtle iris in the direction of his gaze.
Pomodoro folds the corner of the photo to hide a mysterious and closely woven chromatic weave.
Grignani peeks out from behind a screen of oblique shapes.
Moncada drapes the contour, evoking an ethnic color.
Del Pezzo arabesques with comfortable, functional ornamental footsteps.
Carmi inserts a full-blown piece of work, a full structure into the portrait, juxtaposing it with his image, immortalized in a gesture of debate.
Veronesi enhances his eye with luminous wedges.
Tadini opts for a minimalist opera buffa, a red dot on the tip of his nose.
Pericoli inserts into the black and white the polychrome lighting bolt of an idea.
"Pericoli was the most demanding," recounts Corona, "Bonalumi the most enthusiastic."
Munari, who is over 80, complained that Corona "had made him look older".
Corona's second exploit is made of a different cloth. Baptized "Femmes Extrêmes", it presents "26 porno stars photographed in my own way, in search of glamour" with 60 prints on display in Paris. "Sophistication overthrows kitsch and vulgarity," writes Photo in the portfolio dedicated to "Femmes Extrêmes".
"For years I photographed bodies and beauty. Now my idea was to shift the lens to porno stars without changing the poetry of my style," explains Corona.
The idea comes across as a spectacular photographic redemption.
It is the release of breathtaking beauties who for once do not have to perform, only to be.
"I wanted rigor and clean lines. That is what I look for in life. It comes from the light, from how you illuminate the subject, from your respect for form."
Corona is obsessed with vulgarity. "They asked me to exaggerate, but I treated the porno stars in a graphic way, to the point of risking to depersonalize them."
The X-rated ladies are alone with their sex appeal, out of the ghetto of video and erotic performance, surrounded by darkness and chiaroscuro, the reflections glinting off sado-maso devices, the sheen of leather, skin and metal.
There is Sierra, the 18-year-old American, pressed against a rough wall.
There is the Frenchwoman Tabatha Cash, starlet of the year at Cannes, an economy student who invests her earnings in real estate.
There is Milly D'Abbraccio, the porn star protagonist of Rome by night.
Rome, November 1993