Mattia Balsamini – Alexander Gerst is preparing for Expedition 57

NASA Johnson Space Center – Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, Houston TX, 2018 Parte della tuta indossata dagli astronauti per l’addestramento subacqueo. Il processo di vestizione è lungo e laborioso. Le staffe appoggiate ai lati servono per aiutarsi ad entrare / Part of the suit worn by astronauts for underwater training. The dressing process is long and laborious. The brackets resting on the sides are used to facilitate the entrance
by Beatrice Bruni

Mattia Balsamini is a young author with a rapidly growing career. Born in Pordenone in 1987, he trained in Los Angeles, California where he became assistant to the eclectic and worldwide famous photographer David LaChapelle, in whose Hollywood studio Balsamini has worked on many sets and on the archive. That was a pivotal experience as a photographer in his professional training. After graduating from the Brooks Institute, he then decided to return to Italy.

One of the flagship exhibitions of Photolux Festival 2019, Mondi/New Worlds is 2:56 am. To The Moon And Back. The collective exhibition brings together the projects of many authors who have worked to explore new worlds in space, highlighting the quintessential need of man to discover new horizons.

On July 21, 1969 at 2:56 am, the world followed the first lunar walk of the astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, which the Apollo 11 space mission had brought to the Moon a few hours earlier. Hence Armstrong’s historic sentence as he laid his first extraordinary steps: “That’s one small step for [a] man, but [a] giant leap for mankind”.

Soyuz Simulator, Star City, Russia, 2018 © Mattia Balsamini | Soyuz is the name by which a series of vehicles was developed for the space program of the Soviet Union is known. The first manned flight took place on April 23, 1967, ended with the death of pilot Vladimir Komarov. Since 2011, the year in which the Space Shuttle service ended, waiting for the new generation of space craft, the Soyuz is the only spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to the International Space Station.

The Lucca exhibition celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the first man on the Moon: through a selection of works it shows the different approaches with which photography and other arts, such as cinema and music, have observed Space and the Moon, with a dreamy, passionate and epic look.

One of the authors of the collective is indeed Mattia Balsamini: in his images, created for GEO Magazine, we see Alexander Gerst, German astronaut of the European Space Agency, preparing for a mission. In 2014, Gerst took part, for the first time, in a series of expeditions to the International Space Station (ISS) aimed at scientific research, which saw the collaboration of the main international space agencies. Gerst is the second European to be in command of the International Space Station after the Belgian Frank De Winne.

On display we can admire some photographs of the A. Gerst – Expedition 57 project, in which Balsamini portrays the astronaut during the preparation for the departure to the space station, which ended in 2018 with the release of the Soyuz MS- 09 probe.

NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston TX, 2018 © Mattia Balsamini | German astronaut Alexander Gerst at the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, an astronaut training facility with a pool containing a 1:1 replica of the International Space Station. In this image Gerst is preparing for a long underwater training for Expedition 57.

Expedition 57 was the 57th long-term mission to the ISS.

We witness the astronaut’s athletic preparation, we saw him struggling with weights in the gym and taking long swims to keep in perfect shape, we observe the machineries and the sophisticated equipment. We see him wearing large fully equipped spacesuits, and performing manoeuvres under water or interventions on mechanical parts of the spaceship. The images of the author are sharp, impeccable, almost clinical.

It looks like that every shot is maniacally taken care of in every detail, and it probably is.

Balsamini receives many commissions in which he often deals with topics of a scientific nature. Among them the Mission Rosetta project, a space program developed by the European Space Agency, launched in 2004 and ended in 2016. The aim of the mission was to study of the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, periodic comet of our solar system, reached by the Philae lander, which arrived on its surface to study it. Or the MIT project, created for Wired Italia, an excursus on the most important technological discoveries that took place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, mixing photographs of futuristic instruments, portraits of scientists, white buildings, computers, Petri dishes, drawings and mathematical formulae.

NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston TX © Mattia Balsamini | The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) is NASA’s center for human spaceflight (originally named the Man- ned Spacecraft Center), where human spaceflight training, research, and flight control are conducted.

The Caorso Nuclear Plant project is also very interesting: an assignment for Wired, on the Caorso nuclear power plant – in the province of Piacenza, Italy – which was shut down in 1986, but whose dismantling is still in progress, causing economic and environmental problems, and which will eventually represent the largest clean-up of a nuclear site in Europe. Very impressive are the images in which we see the control rooms from which the reactor was operated. All this made with a clear style, signature of the author in every project.


curated by: Enrico Stefanelli, Chiara Ruberti,
Naima Savioli, Alessia Locatelli, Chiara Dall’Olio,
Alessandro Romanini and Andrea Pacifici

Palazzo delle Esposizioni of the Banca del Monte di Lucca Foundation
Via del Molinetto, Lucca
PHOTOLUX FESTIVAL | 16 November – 8 December 2019

from Mon to Fri: 3:00 – 7:30 pm
Sat and Sun: 10:00 am – 7:30 pm


November 15, 2019

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