Paolo Pellizzari has chosen "an ordinary" place to stage an art exhibition featuring his Beijing Olympic Games photos.
His display is neither at a famous art gallery nor established museum, but at a typical hutong.
Paolo Pellizzari (left) talks with an owner of a beauty salon while his friend Ling Fei records their conversation. It is part of Pellizzari's documentary movie Hutong Games. photos courtesy of Paolo Pellizzari.(Photo Source: China Daily)
So far, about a dozen photos, each enlarged to 2 m in size, have been showcased at restaurants, barbershops and local residences at Qianliang Hutong in Beijing's Dongcheng district. To celebrate the spirit of the Olympics, the 52-year-old photographer is giving away at least one photo per day.
"I believe the Olympics doesn't just belong to those who get tickets to watch games. It's (also) a part of people's assets, belonging to everyone," he says. "I want to share my works with more ordinary people and create interaction with them."
The Italian was inspired by the idea three years ago, when he was invited to exhibit at a photo festival in Pingyao, Shanxi province.
But Pellizzari arrived too late and there wasn't enough space to display his photos, so he had to put them on the streets outside the gallery.
To his surprise, everyone stopped to look at his photos. The scene was more stirring than the exhibition's, which made him realize the importance of sharing his work with the masses.
Now, Pellizzari is working at the Olympics for an agency, Contact Press Images. All of his photos are taken with a panoramic camera. The wide angle allows him to take photos with a field vision of 140 degrees.
He picks the best photos after finishing his long day's work and his son Lorenzo, who came with him this summer, is responsible for scanning and printing them out.
"The photos we chose must be different from what people can see from TV, in other words, the angle is what the camcorder doesn't cover - for instance, athletes resting during the games and the outside scene of the Bird's Nest when the Opening Ceremony was on," explains Pellizzari .
Meanwhile, he is making a documentary movie named Hutong Games, with his Chinese friend Ling Fei as the cameraman.
Ling admitted to being a bit worried at the beginning, as they had no idea how local residents would react to their work. But, people have fallen in love with the photos, hanging them immediately on the walls of their homes or shops.
Restaurant owner Zhang Yong was the first person to receive the surprise gift and immediately chose the photo taken at the Opening Ceremony.
"It (captures) a moment when all the world's athletes entered the Bird's Nest, looking like a big family," says Zhang. "I really like the photo and will always keep it in my restaurant."
Over the past week, the owner of the Nagoya Barbershop, named Ye, who was also given a photo, has been asked several times by her customers to give away the photo, but she declines their offers and insists on saving it forever.
"My child loves it and so do we," she says. "It's a very special souvenir of the Beijing Olympic Games."
Thanks to his hutong exhibition, Pellizzari and his photographs are gaining fame in the area. Despite language barriers, the photographer jokes he has no problem getting a free dinner there.
"The show has generated lots of pleasure for me," he says. "This is the best way to enjoy life in Beijing."
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily August 20, 2008)