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Book of the Week: A Pick by Reto Caduff

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Reto Caduff Reto Caduff selects A Drop In The Ocean by Allesandro Calabrese & Milo Montelli as Book of the Week.
A Drop In The Ocean  
by Allesandro Calabrese & Milo Montelli. Éditions Du LIC, 2015.
This week's Book of the Week pick comes from Reto Caduff who has selected A Drop In The Ocean by Allesandro Calabrese & Milo Montelli from Éditions Du LIC.

"The sun-faded, hypnotic cover with palm trees and no text on the front caught my attention when I first discovered it a few months ago in some book store. I did not know anything about this Sergio Romagnoli but was intrigued enough by the dated (70s/80s), well laid-out images that I bought the book on a whim. The images reveal little about a clear narrative yet one feels just by flipping through the pages that we are invited to take part in someone’s life with ephemeral takes on what seem like vacation shots, intercut with wonderful, almost romantic settings and various objects (lots of plants). It’s really the way I like to discover a photobook — just looking at the images presented without any backstory, trying to puzzle together the meaning and personal narration.

It was a bit of a shock to finally get the story behind the images: 'Sergio Romagnoli was killed in 1994 at age 37. The circumstances surrounding his murder have never been fully explained and remain a mystery to this day. At the time of his murder, Sergio and his wife were living on Sao Tomè and Príncipe, a small island nation in the Gulf of Guinea off the West Coast of Central Africa. They had ventured there to do voluntary work in an orphanage after the recent death of their baby son at the age of one.'

A Drop In The Ocean is the result of a collaborative effort by curators Alessandro Calabrese and Milo Montelli to tell Sergio’s story with a body of many thousands of pictures free of any artistic claim. They did an extraordinary job in building a narrative that holds the attention from the cover to the last image without going for any cheap thrills or effects and in doing so add something I can only describe as 'soul' and 'humanity.' I have deep respect for the duo for tackling what must have been a very challenging task — to dive into the most personal memorabilia of a murdered person. Sergio Romagnoli was a Professor of Natural Sciences and Geography, a passionate naturalist and a keen photographer. It’s wonderful to go through these images again and again, discover the humor in them and the fascination and curiosity this man had for nature and people. It’s thanks to the talent of the curators that I never feel like a voyeur leafing through someones most personal photo album but instead am treated to a creative homage to Romagnoli’s life and work.

And even the seemingly trippy cover image turns out to be one of Sergio’s last photos, taken from the camera following his murder. The camera was thrown in the water by the killer(s) but parts of the film roll survived. A haunting yet perfectly done photo book that deserves more attention."—Reto Caduff

Purchase Book

A Drop In The Ocean  by Allesandro Calabrese & Milo Montelli. Éditions Du LIC, 2015.

A Drop In The Ocean  by Allesandro Calabrese & Milo Montelli. Éditions Du LIC, 2015.

Reto Caduff is a photographer and filmmaker and runs the photo book publishing company Sturm & Drang.
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