Nicola Bertellotti photographs abandoned places. The first time I saw his photography I was astonished by what people leave behind to decay. Even today, many of his images still linger with me. Once I saw The L’Horizon Chimérique above, I instantly wondered – what is the story? There is always a story, in every image.
How do you even leave a curtain, a beautiful mirror, and a statue behind?
Surprising Dinner Party
Bertellotti’s work reminded me about one unusual dinner party a few years ago. Back then, my dear friends have just moved to a new house. I recall being a bit surprised that they had an exquisite concert piano; however, I knew that neither of them played it. Also, there were other decorations that seemed out of character, too.
I was very curious so I inquired about the interior design. They simply said – it came with the house. I didn’t understand. I asked again – “Oh, the piano came with the house?” They answered – no, everything came with the house. Everything, absolutely everything, came with the house including the forks and knives we used for dinner.
I am astonished by the two parallel stories. Firstly, that someone left everything behind. Secondly, I’m astounded that someone just moved into the place as is. These thoughts remained with me for a long time.
The most fascinating aspect was that they had bought the Atlanta house as-is, sight unseen from New York, solely from pictures. Equally, the seller sold it as is. Think about it – they needed to find each other. What are the odds for such a perfectly timed transaction?
Nicola Bertellotti Finds Beauty in Decay
Looking at Nicola’s photos of abandoned places, what captivates me the most is their immense beauty. Undoubtedly, you can see their past glory. These are places created by people who appreciate great aesthetics and create beauty.
Similarly to my friends’ beautiful home, a house that someone left with everything in it, even earrings and kitchen utensils, most of these abandoned places are left as is.
Nicola’s abandoned palaces had seen some glorious times. Oh, I wish to hear all those stories that those walls could tell. For some reason or another, they didn’t find another owner who would keep them alive.
Also, the knowledge of the original owners of these glorious places is mostly unknown. So, I asked Nicola what drove him to seek and photograph these magnificent and startling places.
Abandoned Places by Nicola Bertellotti
Bertellotti captures the end of a period of splendor – a rich and opulent era. His work shows the grandeur of places that are now shrouded in oblivion. The observation and the focus of these themes become the leitmotiv for him.
What emerges in his aesthetics is the nostalgia of the lost paradise. He expresses his love for the ruins and the photographic revival of the decadent beauty of abandoned places.
The beauty of its subjects consists of their transience. He has a fascination with cracks, natural and architectural decay, that brings things back to their primordial state.
The Great Beauty – Start of Passion
When I was a kid, I used to wander around the abandoned amusement park near my home. I loved spending whole afternoons trying to discover the lost magic of these carousels and how the place was like back in time. Imagining these stories is what I really like about these incredible places. Also, being a witness of the power of nature that always takes back what’s “hers”. There is also a unique post-apocalyptic style with decay. Trying to capture what is beautiful in what remains is important to me and showing how the disappearance of men can create eerie atmospheres that make us think about why they have been abandoned in the first place.– Nicola Bertellotti
Art of Finding Abandoned Places by Nicola Bertellotti
I search using satellite maps, news, archives. I rarely find them on the road, while I’m headed to other places already on my map.– Nicola Bertellotti
Hard to Choose
All the places witness of a past glory and grandeur. What emerges in my aesthetic is the nostalgia of the lost paradise, expressed in love for the ruins, and the photographic re-proposal of decadent poetry. The beauty of its subjects consists in their transience: it is the charm of vegetable and architectural negligence, which brings things back to their primordial state. My lens captures images of a past through the memory of one’s own experience, with a reference to the “Recherche du temps perdu”. The obsolete objects and the places portrayed by me have, in fact, the same function of the “madeleine” in Marcel Proust, that of evoking the memory of a happy age.– Nicola Bertellotti
Nicola Bertellotti – Interest in Photography
It all started as a journey, the passion for photography was born with curiosity and the desire to capture what I met on my way; I wanted a story in images that would come as close as possible to the authentic experience.– Nicola Bertellotti
Impact on Life
These projects had become my job. I feel very lucky, I do the thing I like most and that brings together my greatest passions: photography, history and travel.– Nicola Bertellotti
Remembrance of Things Past
Inspired by Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, Bertellotti’s lens captures images of a near past with a reference to Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. The obsolete objects and the places portrayed by the photographer are evoking the memory of a happy age.
About Nicola Bertellotti
Nicola Bertellotti elaborates on a personal vision towards an aesthetic of decadence through his photography, in which the sense of the transience of everything has deep roots. To illustrate, his photographic research took shape in the first dedicated exhibition “Fenomenologia della Fine” in 2013 in the province of Lucca.
The exhibition repeated the following year, in Pisa. Petrartedizioni makes a publication with texts by Pier Luigi Pinelli with Nicola’s work. In 2014, he took part in the European Photographic Festival (Busto Arsizio) where he exhibited “Damnatio Memoriae.” Nicola also presents his work in native Tuscany with the exhibition “Focus on” at Sensi Arte Galleria.
2015 – “Il lungo addio” (The long goodbye) at LAB (Palermo), SetUp Art Fair and Art Riga Fair.
2016 – “Hic sunt dracones” – Castel dell’Ovo (Naples) and CODICE MIA at My Photo Fair (Milan).
2017 – “Heimat” at Galleria Ponzetta di Pietrasanta and “Aftermath” at the Isculpture Gallery in San Gimignano. The Museum of Contemporary Art LIMEN (Vibo Valentia) enriches its permanent collection with one of his works, “Blue Eye”.
He is a finalist for two consecutive years at the Arteam Cup award. In fact, in 2018 he won gold and bronze medal in the architecture section at the Moscow international photo awards.
In 2020, Nicola had a solo exhibition, “The Great Beauty” at the Pärnu Museum in Estonia. The exhibition is the photographer’s homage to the great abandoned Italian beauty.
Nicola Bertellotti – Stories From Abandoned Places
Every picture and every location has its own story. There’s just more to a picture than just the shot itself. The travel, the difficulties, the hardship that went into it. The fails, the encounters with copper thieves, the early bird attempts, the scouts at night, the climbs, the close calls, the busts.
But also the joy of finding unspoiled stuff, treasures, meeting great people and all things resulting in the great adventure. It’s those experiences that I what to share with my stories. In 2014, I tried to explore the famous abandoned monument of Buzludzha, in Bulgaria. It was autumn, so I was not really worried about the weather.
I was driving when snow and wind turned that place into a white hell. Suddenly the car stopped and I was isolated in the middle of nowhere and the temperature was – 5 °C (23°F). The phone did not work and I was stuck in those conditions for hours, for the first time I feared for my life. Fortunately, I was saved by the Bulgarian firemen when the car had become a pile of ice and snow.
It’s crazy if I think about all the risks I take for a simple photo. The great risk that I had tried made me forget the disappointment of what I lost. Nevertheless, last year I came back to finish what I had started. And it went very well. In the end, it was a dramatic experience, I can not deny that even the unconsciousness is a part of what I do. There is a kind of suspension of consciousness when I enter an abandoned place. All fear dissolves.
A Word from the Founder, Zest & Curiosity
Nicola and I have known each other for a long while. It started first with my admiration and awe of his fabulous photography and went into the amazing and interesting conversations about the films and literature that we both love. I am forever grateful for the introduction to Eric Rohmer’s philosophical and beautiful films. I watched every single one of them. And, what a treat that was!
I also enjoyed learning about Nicola’s fascinating process and passion for his art through our interview. Each time I see his incredible image from an abandoned place I’m in awe of the transience of time. Without a doubt, they are always a reminder for me to live very fully in the present. Each image has intertwined Nicola’s story and the story of the place. How they find each other is pure beauty. Thus, without Nicola, those amazing places would completely perish, obliterated even from our memory. Imagine that?
Nicola, thank you for your passion and for this very particular curiosity. So often, your images surprise me. They make my days more inspiring and full of interesting thoughts. Based on the first image, I even wrote the imaginary story about what happened in that place.
Nicola Bertellotti is a Petrasnata, Tuscany based photographer. For more of his photography, check his amazing Instagram, Facebook, and website as well.
Enjoy in exploring the Great Beauty, dear reader.
Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director
Zest & Curiosity