Your photographic exhibition in the Coffee Cluster is called “Profumo di sogno”, or Dream Scent: how did this reportage come about?
I adore the perfume of coffee, and that’s how the exhibition got its title. We began this project in 2002, with the idea we’d discussed with Andrea Illy, about building a story around the people hidden behind coffee’s production process. Everyone knows all about the vast market of coffee consumption, but very few know anything about how it is grown and processed. We wanted to go among the people involved and show the richness of the product and the work involved in producing it. Worldwide, tens of millions of families live on the coffee trade.
These photos will be exhibited in Expo Milano 2015 until the end of this month. What happens then? Will you continue your involvement with food? Do you think it is a socially relevant subject?
We may well propose the exhibition elsewhere, in other countries, from Brazil to the US. I’d be very happy to do more photographic work on the subject of food: it’s wonderful to observe the people who work the earth, producing food and interacting with the planet: it’s fantastic! I’ve photographed coffee, now I could photograph rice, olive oil, wheat… but in every case I would show the human dimension hidden behind these products.
It’s extremely important to work on these kinds of photos, to show people in contact with the earth. Our ancestors always worked the earth and produced everything in collaboration with it. We live in a modern industrial society and we have the impression that all work involves intellect, industry, technology. But actually, the majority of the world’s workers still do as what people did 2,000 years ago: they put their hands into the earth and procure everything that is needed. If we leave the cities, we see how the earth is cultivated. For example, we can see how olive oil is produced, see how people work among these trees which are hundreds of years old. The power of the Planet is incredibly strong, and the power of the people who touch the earth is incredibly important.
From your photographic projects one feels the beautiful yet precarious relationship between humanity and nature: do you think photography can help to make people more sensitive about respecting the resources of the Planet and making their lifestyle more moderate?
Photography is a means, hardly decisive on its own, but together with texts, films, television and newspapers it can contribute to the flow of information. Photography is part of this wider information system.
Coffee is part of you: what has this project activated in you? Memories, emotions, new interpretations of your life?
No, it hasn’t activated new interpretations, it is my whole life. My father used to grow coffee and transport it through the forest using 15 mules to the ports on the coast. He had a small industry for preparing coffee for export, where I used to work too. Coffee is my whole life, and this exhibition is part of that, a continuation of that.
is the Official Partner of Expo 2015 for the design and content management, of exhibitions and events dedicated to coffee, within the common areas of the Coffee Cluster
. The meeting with the photographer Sebastião Salgado and illycaffè has resulted in "Scent of a Dream": the largest ever reportage dedicated to the world of coffee.