GALLERY There’s an Italian photographer who travels the world hunting for wrecks

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Duty of Memory is the name of Stefano Benazzo ‘s exhibition devoted to ship and boat wrecks. Photography work around the world that lasted more than six years. Born in 1949, in addition to serving as Italy’s ambassador to Minsk and Sofia, Benazzo has always cultivated his passion for photography. Today he is a renowned lens artist. An excerpt of his work can now be seen in the solo exhibition at Istanbul’s Rahmi M. Koç Museum, open until March 31, which brings together a selection of 60 photos. The subjects are shipwrecks and boats taken around the world, there where fate has led them to run aground at the end of their last voyage.

The artist poses next to his own sixty works on display while waiting for representatives of the local press (credit: Bruno Cianci/RMK Museum)

“I WANT TO BRING BACK TO LIFE THOSE WHO NAVIGATED THERE”
“I photograph the wrecks so that they can get their last chance to express themselves, through images that carry the lives of sailors and their memories; thus their dreams stay alive and continue to exist. By paying attention to the remains of ships, I try to revive them, bringing back to life those who sailed in them.

Illustrating each and every image in my exhibition to Rahmi Koç and the other guests, answering the many questions, I once again saw my wrecks come to life: it was as if the men who were once on board were speaking,” he said.

“Duty of Memory” is the title of the exhibition of photos the former diplomat took on four continents during more than six years of work: Italy, Greece, Portugal, Iceland, Mauritania, Namibia, Turks & Caicos Islands, South Georgia, Chile and Falklands/Malvinas. “I am honored,” says Benazzo, “to have been invited to exhibit my photographs in this transportation museum largely devoted to the history of boating and navigation-I could not have hoped for a more suitable setting for this exhibition, which aims to become a traveling exhibition in Turkey.”

AN ITINERATING EXHIBITION
Between June and October, the collection will find a home in another of tycoon and philanthropist Rahmi M. Koç’s museums in Ankara and possibly also in Bursa, thanks to the support of that city’s honorary consul of Italy. Stefano Benazzo is now accustomed to the limelight of exhibitions; there are already 40 solo exhibitions in his career and as many as 16 on wrecks. “By a fortunate coincidence, although nothing happens by chance,” he said, “Rahmi Koç and I found ourselves in complete agreement on the need to respect the ‘Duty of Remembrance’ to those who created, managed, and conducted the ships, means, and equipment that allowed humans to make our civilizations grow.”

A TASTE OF BENAZZO’S SHOTS

Stephen Benazzo, armed with camera, visits the wreck of the ship Dimitrios, Greece (credit: Annika Barbarigos).

RELITTERS FROM THE LONG LIFE
The image used for the poster is the same one imprinted on the cover of the book “Wrecks: Relicts
” (Skira, 2017), winner of a Carlo Marincovich Award. It depicts the ocean-going tug Samson, in commission for 57 years, including 45 years in the Falklands, the place where the photo was taken; Samson escaped disaster for many ships and rescued hundreds of seafarers before being decommissioned in 1945.

A visually striking photo. Taken despite 40 knots of air blowing when Benazzo arrived on those shores and preventing his tripod from staying in place. The opening of the exhibition was attended by Italian Ambassador Massimo Gaiani and Elena Sgarbi, Consul General of Italy in Istanbul. If the exhibition took place, it is also thanks to their support and help in finding two sponsors (Yapi Kredi and Organik Group).

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