Rural We: Giovanni di Mola
Giovanni di Mola has been a familiar face in Hudson, New York for years. The busy photographer seems to know everyone in town and has taken pictures of quite a few of them. With the release of his first book of portraits “Kindred,” he’s sharing intimate, vulnerable and raw images of the people of Hudson, taken over 13 years. Ninety percent of the photos in “Kindred” were shot in Hudson and only one was taken outside New York State. Di Mola will be launching and signing his book at The Spotty Dog this Saturday at 5 p.m., and a collection of his work will soon be on display at The Gallery at 46 Green Street in Hudson with an opening reception to be held June 9. The exhibition, which also includes Hudson-related work not seen in the book or di Mola’s previous NYC show, will run through July 15.
I was born and raised in Astoria, Queens. Both of my parents were from Italy. I won a photo contest against adults when I was in the second grade. They were closeups of dogs and cats in the neighborhood. They were portraits! I won a camera with a flash, five rolls of film and free processing and prints. So all of a sudden I knew I could take pictures and my mom didn’t have to pay for them and I didn’t have to use allowance and I didn’t have to ask anyone for permission.
My father was a guard at the Vatican (that was his claim to fame). He took me to see Renaissance paintings and those seated portraits were, to me, the most magical things in the world. They still are. When I went to the Clark, I fell in love with those seated portraits from the 1800s. That inspires how I shoot. I use all available light and no retouching.
What brought me here: I kept coming up on weekends in the early ‘90s with my crew of friends from the East Village who had started getting these inexpensive weekend places. I was freelancing so I would have days and days free. I’d visit them and bring my equipment and in a weekend I would create more artwork than in six months to a year in NYC.
I use to be petrified to do portraits. I was super shy. But over time I got more comfortable with face contact. But I also loved fashion so I liked dressing my friends up in something I designed.
These days people are so super aware of their own face because of the selfie thing. I meet up with people and there’s nothing but me, the camera and the daylight and we just hang out. I never thought about a book. I just wanted to do their portrait because they were interesting and accessible and were fun. This is a whole new world I’m trying to be open to.