Obtain•ium: to obtain [v.tr. ob·tained, ob·tain·ing, ob·tains] plus ium: chemical element or group {New Latin -ium, neuter n. suff., from Greek –ion}. Materials used to create art work such as assemblage, mixed media or sculpture that weren’t bought new, but obtained in other ways, such as second-hand, dumpster diving, chance findings or donations. Term widely used amongst the residents of Joshua Tree, California.
Nicola’s pictures of these amazing characters are not telling us about a struggle or alternative lifestyle. In fact this body of work is evoking normality and whispering sensitivity. A dream is not a dream once it becomes the ordinary extraordinary.
The rumors of true things, the colors of imaginary yet real landscapes, are the subject matter of the Obtainium collection. Nicola’s closure with these human beings, their surroundings and manufacts shows the essence of photographic art. To be there to enter the void. Defying any rational thoughts, it’s all he can do. In Nicola Carignani’s imperfect world all that is left is the search for freedom. Voltaire’s legacy was not entirely given up here. Indeed a very practical solution for modern times too, “Man is free at the moment he wishes to be”.
This very sweet sense of freedom is all over Carignani’s desert portraits, each one with its own perfectly balanced legacy. Leaving Las Vegas or Leaving Los Angeles is not necessarily an act of disobedience but an act of faith towards liberty and “normality”. Yes indeed I say it again. This is what Nicola was undoubtedly looking for and this is what he found almost so very naturally. These photos are forever. These spirits have been living there with us for many ages and Nicola’s ability to capture them for his narration is just another chunk of his own personal discovery channel. Enjoy it while you can.
Ivanmaria Vele
Nicola Carignani was born in 1978 in Pietrasanta, Italy. As a teenager, he got rescued by the hard-core punk scene from a bourgeois, middle-class upbringing. He started meeting people from different walks of life and got to know more interesting circles, like skateparks, live concerts and the British magazine culture. Right after high school he developed a strong passion towards contemporary art, photography and publishing. Between 1998 and 1999, during his photography studies, he took numerous workshops with artists like Martin Parr and Nick Waplington. In 2000 he concluded his Three Year Photography Program at Studio Marangoni in Florence. Still in school, he founded Boiler Magazine, an innovative contemporary art magazine. Boiler ran smoothly until 2004, when Nicola was struck by a sudden urge for a mystical experience. Nicola decided to leave and meditate at a Buddhist monastery in Ceylon and he then arrived in India at the Osho commune, where he stayed much longer than expected. Coming back in Italy to work as a photographer he needed a new sparkle which he found in experimentation. Fashion, portraiture and sport culture all blend in into the mix that defines the unique style of his images, all containing the same dose of cheekiness, elegance, irony and wildness.


2013 “Obtainium”, Galeria La Plataforma, Barcelona, critic text by Ivanmaria Vele
2013 “Obtainium”, Galleria Margini Arte Cotemporanea, Pietrasanta, curated by Enrico Mattei
2004 “Born Again”, Galleria Nicola Ricci Arte Contemporanea, Pietrasanta, curated by Fabiola Naldi
2002 “Steal and Burn”, Studio Ercolani, Bologna, curated by Chiara Leoni
2000 “Elective Affinities”, BIG Torino, Torino, curated by Nicoletta Leonardi
2015 “Il Nuovo Vocabolario della Moda italiana, Triennale di Milano, curated by Vittorio Linfante
2005 “Padiglione Italia Out Of Biennale”, Trevi Flash Art Museum, curated by Chiara Leoni
2003 “Hovering”, Peres Projects Gallery, Los Angeles, curated by Daniele Balice
2002 “2 in uno”, Galleria Galica, Milano, curated by Gigliola Foschi
“Viasatellite”, Mercati Traianei, Roma, curated by Alessandra Galletta
2001 “Archivi, Memorie ed Accumulazioni”, Centre Culturel Français, Torino, curated by a.titolo and Franco Vaccari
2000 “Les trahisons du modèle”, Chapelle du Rham, Luxembourg, curated by Paul di Felice
1999 “Multiple Vision”, Taranto Gallery, New York, curated by Nicoletta Leonardi
“Shift”, Studio Ercolani, Bologna, curated by Chiara Leoni
“Multiple vision”, Clone Media Gallery, Londra, curated by Nicoletta Leonardi
1998 Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles
Obtainium project 2016
Obtainium project 2016

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