Paolo Ventura’s Short Stories are whimsical narratives told through pictures—tales of love, war, and family—where things magically appear or disappear, set in an imaginary past of World War II Italy. Much like in silent films, the drama unfolds with no words or captions. For these works, Ventura constructed life-sized sets, in which he situated himself and members of his family (casting his son, wife, and twin brother as actors), in stories that are at once charming and disquieting. While seemingly simple, Ventura’s vignettes come with larger implications: brothers who encounter each other by surprise on the battlefield, jugglers who appear from above, a man who packs himself into his suitcase, a small-town magician who accidentally makes his son disappear for real, and many others. Here, Ventura has built a world of realistic proportions and actors, in fantastical tales and against painted backdrops—challenging notions of what is real and what is make-believe. This book collects the entire series of Ventura’s Short Stories together for the first time, including three previously unpublished, and offers a glimpse into the artist’s extraordinary imagination.
Paolo Ventura (born in Milan, 1968) graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan in 1991. His work has been exhibited internationally, including at Forma International Center for Photography, Milan; Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, France; and Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris. He also created a series of works for the Italian pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale. His works have been acquired by prominent collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; and the Margulies Collection, Miami. His monographs include War Souvenir (2006), Winter Stories (Aperture and Contrasto, 2009), and The Automaton (2012).