Lorenzo Vitturi's Dalston

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday March 12, 2014

You are what you eat, how you coif, what you wear might be a subtext of Lorenzo Vitturi’s Dalston Anatomy. One of the most talked about self-published books of 2013, it made most of the year-end top tens and was short-listed for the Paris Photo/Aperture Book Prize. Above: Yellow Chalk #1&2, 2013 (detail), © Lorenzo Vutturi, from the Dalston Anatomy series

This is a photo book as object, from its content—evocations of Vitturi’s gritty neighborhood and its diverse population undergoing transformation—to the artful production that incudes unique cloth covers made from Vlisco Holland wax batik fabrics [bottom right).

Vitturi was born in Venice and now divides his time between Dalston and Milan. He began to feel the pressure of change when the Underground extended a branch from the city center to his east London neighborhood.

Without quite knowing what he was up to, according to a 2013 interview, he began picking up discards in the local market, which found their way into a series of towering, wildly balanced sculptures that Vitturi fashioned primarily out of food items combined with bits of jewelry and fabric. These he photographed against backdrops of boldly patterned cloth and brightly painted walls. The neighborhood’s strong Afro-Caribbean vibe comes through, and some of the pages have vertical borders in the colors of national flags.

In the book the sculptures are sequenced among close portraits of Dalstonites sporting street-wise fashions and elaborate hair styles and headgear. After a dizzying run of pages jammed with color and detail, a group of portraits and still-lifes will be separated by a blank facing page. In the middle of the book a section printed on bright white uncoated paper offers texts by poet Sam Berkson in maximum-size caps that, I'm guessing, are intended to be read aloud, adding a DIY soundtrack. 

There is so much to take in, from the frenetic pacing of images to the visual overload that you might not notice, straight off, that some of the portraits are shot from prints laid flat on the floor, with pieces of bright chalk (graffiti tools?) set on top of the faces (below left). And the book's title aptly suggests Vitturi's process of dissecting his surroundings to reveal what makes Dalston throb with vitality.

Dalston Anatomy by Lorenzo Vitturi (SPBH/Jibijana), 168 pages, 110 images. The first edition of 700 copies sold out in the blink of an eye. View. The second edition is scheduled for an April release and can be preordered. (Publisher Bruno Ceschel told me that a few image changes have been made in the new edition.) Some of the slipcased special edition (50) copies are still available, from 300-500 GBP. Information. CV19.BOOK.PHOTO