Matteo Dal Vera
Matteo Dal Vera is an emerging photographic artist based in Sydney, Australia. His work explores language as a construct—whether it be visual or spoken, and it’s tendency to fall short of what one has to say. Through the story telling sensibilities in his work, Dal Vera asks viewers to appreciate what meaning is lost, as well as what is found when experiences are translated through pictures.
In addition to his personal practice, Dal Vera works as a studio assistant with Australia’s leading printing lab High Res Digital, where he is currently mentored by master printer Warren Macris. It is through High Res Digital’s collaborative environment that he has had the opportunity to assist on projects by artists such as: Rosemary Laing, Murray Fredricks, Derek Henderson, Joan Ross, Tamara Dean, Gary Heery and Julie Rrap. Currently, he is completing internships with artist and commercial photographer Derek Henderson (commercially represented by M.A.P) and Rachel Knepfer, who previously worked as the Director of Photography at Rolling Stone Magazine (New York).
Artistically, who has inspired the work you create?
It’s difficult to put down to a few artists. When I admire a photographer’s work, I’m curious to take similar pictures—they feel ‘soulless’—but it makes me wonder: ‘what were they thinking when they took that photograph?’. After studying someone's work long enough, you begin to see their pictures in the real world. I’ll be walking down the street and suddenly see something that resembles a Gregory Halpern or a Guido Guidi photograph. It’s a bizarre and beautiful thing. That said, when I know I’m looking through my own eyes—it’s usually a picture that will mean a lot to me.
You recently went to America for an intensive photographic workshop. Can you speak a little about shooting there and the difference between the Australian and American photographic landscape?
Yes, the workshop was organised by Benjamin Chadbond at UTS, in partnership with Pier 24 Photography Museum and California College of the Arts. One of our studio visits was with Todd Hido. He made a point on the topic of photo-books, referring to our capacity to subconsciously absorb aspects of an artist’s work into our own. This idea has stuck with me in the context of this trip. It was my first time travelling to the US and all I had seen of the American landscape were photographs by American photographers. Inevitably, I think most of my photographs from the US resemble those of others. Working in Australia is different though. I’ve lived most of my life in Sydney and my work is a response to my lived experience of the area.
The project you are currently working on is long-form documentary based and utilises large format photography. How does the medium inform your process?
This follows on nicely from your last question. I have been working on a collaborative project with artist Michael Weatherill for the last 6 months. The project is ongoing and explores a form of narrative that lies in a space between the documentary aesthetic and constructed conceptual imagery. In my opinion, what separates photography from other mediums is it’s closeness to a ‘perfect’ representation of something. Yet, it’s inability to be perfect—the inevitable failure in the process of making a picture— is what makes it frustrating and beautiful to me. Using a Large Format Camera heightens this process. There's more at stake.
Working alongside photographer Michael Weatherill for this series, what does collaboration in a photographic practice look like?
It’s been a learning experience. We began the project with a particular set of intentions, but collaborating has taught us to let go of our initial ideas and work more intuitively. It’s important that the photographs reflect our collective sensibility to the area we’re working in. I was reading an interview by a publisher, Lavalette, on the series ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’ by Ahndraya Parlato and Gregory Halpern. In the interview, Halpern made the point that in some ways, you create a third person when you collaborate. I think it’s a nice metaphor for how Michael and I work together. We like to make decisions behind one camera.
What are your favourite film stocks to use?
My favourite film stocks are Portra 400 and Tmax 400.