Like being in a film

First comes the idea. A dream-like image, an association of ideas, a fantasy linked to some detail of lived experience, an object, a place or a pure thought. Every single part of the outer world, as well as the most deeply hidden dimension of our inner sphere, can suggest the idea for an image, a new creative universe, a new reality to represent.
Then there follows the preparation of everything needed to transform this idea into something concrete, tangible, present – in a word, photographable: choice of characters, setting, costumes, lights, scenery, make-up.
The work of Roberto Kusterle is exactly like the work of a director who chooses personally each and every detail that will go into his film. A body, a face, a piece of clothing, an object, a setting: every element is studied and accurately chosen, whether it has in some mysterious way been found or is specially made in the image of the original idea, the trace of thought that is to be turned into a perceptible and corporeal reality.
Clearly we are dealing with a film that is totally complete within each single frame, a frame at times thematically or scenically linked to a sequence of other frames – each of them, however, always absolutely autonomous in its expression and meaning.
Reality or unreality? True or false? Photography, art, or what?
We are not speaking only of photography, then, when we refer to Kusterle’s work. We are also speaking of setting, of narration, of a blend of invention and an extension of thought that combine to create an image knowingly, perfectly, marvellously expressed through the technique of photography.
When we look at his photographic images it is not easy for us to realize how much work – preparation, care, even fatigue – goes into a production of this sort. It is difficult because the eye of the viewer is immediately catapulted into a world that is both attractive and disquieting, far from everyday life yet closely linked to the human dimension.
The sensation we get is at least as contradictory as the image, which is at one and the same time body and thought, truth and fiction, place and distance in the same compositional space.
We might at first take these to be symbolic images or allegories of some ulterior truth. In reality the symbol or allegory are only hinted at, proposed almost at the level of hypothesis, allowing us to intuit certain components of meaning that could bring to mind myth or allegory. But this happens through the strange terrain that Kusterle investigates in his work: a terrain or, better, a territory suspended between the earth’s surface and infinity, between presence and absence, between the self and its double. This is a quest that aspires to reach the very roots of man and of earth, in a dimension outside of time and space which nonetheless we somehow feel to be our own.

Franca Marri