Review by Donatella Baggio Betti

Qui la versione in Italiano di Donatella Baggio Betti

“I liked to walk alone, quiet , learning to get to know that new world step by step” P.P.Pasolini “The scent of India”

This is what Pasolini wrote and this is how he travelled and wandered about India. Not exactly like him does Maurizio but probably with the same kind of spirit, not walking but riding a motorbike along the roads of India with a camera, dangerously attached to the handlebar of his motorbike or positioned, perfectly still , along the road , at the height of a child’s eyes, to record the seamless , absurd, wonderful and ever different show that India can offer to those who feel like watching it , with patience and total oblivion of time constraints and most of all with a bottom-up glance , just like a child, never topdown, in no sense.

In India you are never alone because everywhere , even in the most remote, hidden , unexpected , unexplored place someone will eventually turn up and greet you and , why not, ask you a number of questions about your life that you may wonder why. And yet India is not always overcrowded and swarming with people, children , cows and stuff, as it is often depicted… …..There are thousands of secondary roads leading to smaller and bigger villages whose names you immediately forget that can offer moments of extreme solitude and empty scenery you hardly believe you are still in India. You only need to be patient and wait and very soon the seamless and unstoppable cycle of life that keeps flowing on the broad stage of India will present itself in its full absurdity, impossibility , wonder and horror depending on the moments: people’s eyes that transfix you as they silently ask you unfathomable questions; mysterious and unexplainable rituals ; hilarious scenes in the style of many Italian – or Indian comedies (they are very similar indeed).

A surprise is always round the corner if you know how to spot it ; on the other hand it’s impossible to avoid it because the Indian scene of life is so overwhelming and powerful that you can’t simply ignore it. This is what distinguishes India from any other place in the world: you can’t remain indifferent and not be impressed by it, for the good or the bad. Everything is extreme and our reaction to everything is extreme: sublime ecstasy of indescribable beauty , unbearable horror of incomparable abomination and ugliness….

Riding a bike along the roads of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with a small camera, the former fortunately comes more frequently than the latter and what prevails over everything is an immense tenderness that almost turns into nostalgia of scenes, faces, sounds and colors that there is no other way to come across …but getting lost on a road-trip as these images suggest.

The title of this video , “India through my eyes” , clearly refers to a passage: every image is filtered through Maurizio’s eyes.

But the author’s intention is not that of subjectively observing and proposing a vision , to formulate a thesis and develop it through images. Maurizio’s gaze not only has a child’s height but also share its innocence, curiosity and total openness. The real objectivity of a video shoot has already been discussed and written about by numberless critics and experts, it’s a long and technical subject I don’t feel like further examining here. The position of the camera represents by itself – as we well know – a subjective choice, a personal statement.

But the “passive” observation that does not try to stir , evoke or demonstrate anything is what characterizes these images and the intent of its author. Absolute and equanimous detachment, observation as the pure experience of observing are something you may attain after long and profound meditation. Maurizio’s glance probably doesn’t reach that far but always stays upon India – the country you either love or hate, the universe that either mesmerizes or disgusts you , the society that either intrigues or irritates you – somehow wrapped in a soft veil of empathy that cannot be renounced.

Donatella Baggio Betti

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