“A key element in this work was perhaps the fondness I’ve always had for places and objects that seem to contain everything: encyclopedias, museums, maps.” There is the defamiliarization of scale that comes with such views.
I find no mention of the American poet Elizabeth Bishop in Ghirri’s essays, but his work speaks to me in a way similar to hers. And if they have a shared language, it is a language Italo Calvino speaks, too. All three create a folkloric atmosphere; all have the gift of working in miniature without being trivial; all engage, very gently, the surreal comedy of the world looked at peculiarly.
What Bishop evokes here, and what Ghirri’s work confirms, is a sympathy with the lives of objects, the way the little things that surround us vibrate with accreted knowledge, as if they had been taking note of human behavior all along.