Our Beutyfull Future
office spoke with Berreau about the curation of the show and the impact of Davide Sorrenti’s photography today.
Tell us a bit about the origins of this show—why did you decide to do a curation of Davide Sorrenti’s work?
It all really began when I was editing Let’s Panic Magazine. Because I’ve known the Sorrenti’s for 20 plus years, I approached the family and asked them if we could run some pictures on Davide ... they hadn’t really been published since he passed.
I’d only seen a few of these works in some older issues of Let’s Panic.
Yeah, so with the family’s blessing I was lucky enough to go through the archive and do an edit and publish it. I always had a desire to maybe do an exhibition one day. Havana Lafitte, who was the fashion director of Let’s Panic at the time, founded this gallery and so when the time was right, she said, “I think we should ask the family if they would be willing to do an exhibition.” So that’s how this started. I really did want to focus on his personal work because I think it’s a little bit less known. He started working in fashion and most of his work that was published was fashion, but he had a camera with him at all times. There really was no divide between his professional work, even though he was so young and only beginning professionally, and his personal work. They were just married together. Francesca [Sorrenti] and I curated the show together and we decided to put in a splash of fashion here and there.
What would you like viewers to take away from the show?
Well, there’s a few things. Mainly how his work is still relevant. To me, that’s a sign of a great photographer— timelessness. Also, just to show what a special person he was, and how he was able to carry through his life through his images and his professional work. I find it interesting how someone who is so young…
The work is so mature!
It’s so mature, definitely an old soul, and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that he was sick as a baby and throughout his entire life. He had to endure things that most people his age don’t. So it gave him huge maturity.
What do you think the impact of his work is today? Particularly right now people seem to really like the style of work, I’ve seen a lot of inspiration from his style.
I think he was able to capture the moment in a very authentic, genuine way. Like I said, he always had a camera with him. It was just an extension of himself. This is only a fraction of the work, and that’s just in a two to three year span! And when somebody is taking pictures to that extent, there really is no division between the photograph and their life. And that’s why it really speaks to people today, that it is so real and authentic. And also he had such a wonderful sense of style, so there’s a lot of inspiration for this generation when you look at the clothes, and also just the way people hold themselves.
Even the colors…
His colors are so beautiful as well. He had a very specific palette. We did the best we could to print everything analog, which was at the time obviously the only way to do things and the way he did it. We stayed true to his medium.
What inspired the title of the exhibition?
The title is lifted from one of his diary journal pages! If you look at the door, that’s his writing. I thought it was perfect.
How did you select what went in the show? What aspect of his photography did you really want people to see?
Again it’s mostly the personal work. It’s endless! At some point we had to stop, I didn’t think there’d be this many images in the exhibition. But there’s so much work. We really wanted it to be a balance between his family, his friends, a tiny bit of fashion. Jamie was a big part of his life. So just trying to thread all of those elements throughout the show. Really show that he embraced everything in his life as one.
Yeah that’s what I’ve noticed about the show. Whether it’s a fashion picture or personal one, it always has his own touch that unifies the pictures no matter what the subject. It’s all under the same gaze I think.
Yeah! And with his family, he wasn’t really one to say, oh you know now I gotta go out with my family I’ll see you later, it was all together. All his friends and family hung out.
That’s so special, that’s something I’ve noticed about the Sorrenti’s in general. Gray Sorrenti for example, in her work you’ll see her friends and family all interacting as one—there’s no like, these are the adults in my life, these are my friends … they’re all so close knit.
They’re very close and they look out for each other. They all happen to be in the same business so it’s important to them that they give each other the right advice and stick together. They came to this country as children together, and Francesca was single so she had to figure it all out on her own. I think they really learned a sense of unity from that experience, and respect for each other.
Davide portrays this old New York that people talk about a lot today and are so nostalgic for, especially in light of the changes with Tompkins Square Park. What do you think it is about this kind of life that people, especially in photography, really long for today?
Well there was a lot more freedom before 9/11. I think that that’s the big turning point. New York City changes so quickly—it always has—and that’s something we all have to accept. We all have nostalgia, no matter how old we are, for the old New York. But I really think that 9/11 just sped things up tenfold. So it’s quite shocking to see the difference between now and 20 years ago. So yeah, I think people see a lot of freedom in his photography. I mean I experienced it myself in my twenties during the 90s and it was just a fun playground, you know? We had a lot more liberties than we do now.
Which work is your favorite and why?
That’s such a hard one. I’m gonna go with the heart selfie of Davide.
Because it’s him and I just hold that image in my mind whenever I do anything considering Davide. Davide was so full of love and made people feel so loved and special so it means a lot to me, that image. There are others that I think are aesthetically incredible, but as far as meaningfulness, I’m gonna go with that one.
What do you think makes a great picture?
That’s a hard one… it just has to speak to you. It has to be authentic.
Sincerity in the work is so important.
You can feel it. It’s true, you can tell.
Our Beautyfull Future is on view at 431 East 6th street through July 28th.