Gordon Parks: In front of that story


“Good evening, young man. You’re new here, right? I’ve never seen before.” The housekeeper continued to sweep as he spoke. – “Could you spare a few minutes?”

He leaned on the handle of the brush and accepted. His words were like a nightmare: a father lynched by the crime of the South, the untimely death of his mother, marriage and pregnancy when still studying in high school, a husband killed with firearms two days before the birth of the their daughter, the very pregnant teenage daughter of two illegitimate children and a grandson finally paralyzed. So now she found herself having to raise two grandchildren on a salary barely enough for one person. In front of that story, my life experience seemed like a quiet afternoon walk.

Stories, there’re a lot of stories at the International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri in Verona. Stories of lives that we even know have been lived, stories of dreams and aspirations, in the shadow of the glittery American world: are the stories of Gordon Parks, the storyteller with contemporary flavor that with his photographs, but not limited to, shows America unknow. Ella Watson, that housekeeper becomes the portrait of the anti-racial battle of American blacks and Parks their narrator more penetrating. But under his mechanical eye pass in many, so many, passes the America who are becoming the cyclone eye of XXI century: from Malcolm X to Paul Newman, from Calder to Glenn Gould, from Ingrid Bergman at Stromboli to the beads of sweat on the Muhammad Ali face. He’s a tireless Parks: the “Life” magazine, for which he works for decades, could be considered his stage, if only he cared. Instead, it’s only to its powerful means with which to dig in that America unknown, behind the Hollywood screens. Finally landed in the glossy world of the Vogue’s pages, but even there he gives up and plunges into the lives of models to find the scent of truth. Edited by Alessandra Mauro and produced by Forma Foundation for Photography in collaboration with the Gordon Parks Foundation and Contrasto, the exhibition presents an archive of 160 images, an archive of 160 stories that the photographer accompanies with dedication in a sort of great American short story.




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