Everybody is ready to pose for the photographer. The men in suits and ties, as they used to, even in their moments of leisure. The ladies in their elegant longuette dresses, their parasol kept open to screen out the sunrays, since suntan was not yet fashionable. Who are these people portrayed in the yard and in the garden of a palace neighbouring the Lake Orta? Of course, those photos wanted to capture the happy moments of a family history; they were "relics" that should have been passed on from generation to generation. Unfortunately, by some unclear twist of fate, the photos were abandoned in the attic of the villa that was kept closed for decades... until Elena Franco - the new owner of the house - found them along with obsolete cameras.
Since then, Elena Franco has begun to use these cameras - outdated but still functioning – adopting those found images, as she has done for the house, with its old glass veranda and the neglected garden. She adopts them to redeem them, to continue the interrupted story of the house and its disappeared unknown inhabitants. They become seeds left on her path, helping her to imagine the lives of those forgotten people, and to venture into their past to see and learn about her new home through the eyes of those who spent there their happy times. Of course, the owners of that time, with their smiling eyes looking at the photographer, are not longer there. However, the corner of the yard where they had posed in front of their new sedan is still untouched, as well as the column topped by a strange statue, surviving the ravages of time. Thanks to these images, suspended in an uncertain time and confusingly similar to those of the first half of the twentieth century, Elena Franco offers a mise en abîme of memory, where the borders between real and imaginary, past and present, are so beautifully mingled and intertwined.
So intimate and attentive to the signs of the past in the palace, her images build a tiptoed story made up of osmotic exchanges between the present and the stories portrayed in those dismissed photographs, which Elena Franco has intended to save from oblivion.
by Gigliola Foschi