Sinking Stone by Cristiano Volk shines a mirror on Venice; the theatre, history, tourism and excesses of a tragic city; beautiful but flawed and decaying. Drawing on traditions of baroque theatre, sculpture, architecture and painting, Cristiano’s photographs shine a harsh light on the contrasting surfaces and residents of the city. Sinking Stone is a modern day Vanitas, showing both sides of Venice – a town immortalised through its history and tourism and a precarious, unstable island sinking into water.
The constant invasion of tourists creates a sort of living theater, full of moments and opportunities. Volk concentrates on the body language, gestures and poses of these flocks, desperate to photograph, pose and record with grotesque regularity, without penetrating the surface of the city. Cristiano’s colour work also relates to the Venetian pictorial technique of “tonalismo”, which meant depth was achieved by means of the use of colour. In Sinking Stone, the use of flash and of a limited colour palette points to a different end: illusionistic space is constantly challenged by overexposed areas and awkward angles.
Cristiano’s Venice appears like a Gorgon mask, a vulgar, almost overwhelming face which behind reveals little. After all, vanus, the Latin root word for the city, means empty.