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PICTORIAL STORY

February 23, 2024

PARALLEL REALITIES

Photography and story by Catia Montagna
Introduction by Melanie Meggs

Catia Montagna is a photographer with a unique perspective on the world around her. With a Ph.D. in Economics and a chair of Economics at the University of Aberdeen, Catia's background as a social scientist has carved out a distinct place for herself in the world of photography. From the simple act of holding a camera to framing and clicking, each step of the process allows Catia to see and understand the world in a different light. Through her lens, Catia explores the impact of socioeconomic factors and social norms on our daily lives, revealing the subtle poetry of small, insignificant moments that capture the ‘existential’ and the ephemeral, in the human condition.

Born in Italy, Catia splits her time between the United Kingdom and her home country. From a young age, Catia has been drawn to the art of photography. Armed with an old camera and no film, Catia fondly recalls she would wander through the world, capturing moments in her imagination.

This passion for photography was mostly a personal pursuit for Catia, and it did not go beyond sharing her photographs with friends and family. However, in the early 2000s, she took a short darkroom course at the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre, and this opened up new opportunities for her. It not only brought her into contact with other photographers but also gave her the chance to exhibit some of her work in Scotland. This experience later encouraged Catia to share her work on social media and interact more with others who shared her passion for photography, leading to collaborations with other artists and featured in magazines.

Catia generously shares with us her ongoing project, comprised of photographs taken at different times and in various locations around the world. This collection does not have a specific documentary purpose, but rather serves as a visual reflection of her personal growth and artistic evolution. As we delve into her story and explore the photographs that accompany it, we are invited to join Catia on a journey through her lens, capturing the essence of the world and the human condition in all its complexities and beauties.

CATIA MONTAGNA

“I consider consumerism as a form of fascism worse than the classical one...A form of fascism capable of homogenising societies by depriving of reality the different lifestyles.” - Pier Paolo Pasolini

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The street is alive and speaks of our existence.

When I photograph the street, I like to capture simple moments of everyday life probably immediately forgotten by those who lived them. I am drawn to gestures, expressions, and atmospheres that, in movement or in stillness, reflect nuances of life that reveal existential tensions and what is universal about the human condition.

Wandering around our cities, in the western world and beyond, one cannot fail to perceive, through the filters of the specificities of time and place, how the consumeristic nature of our societies commodifies our daily experiences and acts as a force towards the homogenisation of our needs and of the lifestyles we strive to achieve. Pasolini called it the ‘destructive homologation’ of consumerism.

This homologation hinges on a dichotomy between two parallel worlds: the ‘real’ one of ‘normal’ people going about their lives and the artificial one that the images and messages we are bombarded with everyday are designed to draw us into.

By offering the alluring suggestion of a comforting escape from our ‘normal’, these images generate ever increasing material needs. But, crucially, they also propose unattainable role models – particularly, but not exclusively, for women. Palpable is then the contrast between our real lives and the idealised lives of this glossy other world we are invited to crave for and that has the power to make our normality and our humanity look so imperfect.

As we come to the end of our journey through Catia Montagna’s work, we are reminded of the power of photography to capture the essence of our existence in all its complexities. Through her lens, Catia invites us to reflect on the impact of societal norms and consumerism on our daily lives, while also celebrating the beauty and poetry found in small, seemingly insignificant moments. As we continue to navigate through a world full of contradictions, Catia’s unique perspective reminds us to pause and appreciate the simple yet profound moments that make us human.

With her ongoing projects and collaborations, Catia continues to inspire us to see the world from a different perspective and embrace the imperfections that make us who we are. She is currently working with award-winning poet Andy Jackson on a photo-poetry book based on her photographs. Have a look at her portfolio and follow her links for the next chapter in Catia's journey and the unique perspectives she will undoubtedly capture through her lens.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author/s, and are not necessarily shared by The Pictorial List and the team.

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