How do entertainment parks look like when the happy children are gone, the lights and music off, and everything is still and silent, and plunged into darkness? 56 year-old Italian photographer Stefano Cerio visited a number of entertainment parks and photographed the attractions after closing time, with the cover of the night, creating an unexpected and slightly unsettling way to look at places we usually associate with fun and laughter. The complete series Night Games is available as a photobook recently published by Hatje Cantz (buy your copy); the work is also currently on show at Camera in Turin, Italy.
Hello Stefano, thank you for this interview. What are your main interests as a photographer?
I use photography (and video) to study the places people go to for leisure at moments where no one’s there. It’s a body of work I initiated in 2009, divided in different chapters: Aquapark, Cruise Ship, Night Ski, Chinese Fun, and now Night Games.
Please introduce us to Night Games.
I shot Night Games at night in several entertainment parks, mostly in Italy. It’s not a project about the idea of abandonment; it’s about absence.
What inspired Night Games? How did you get the idea to photograph an entertainment park at night?
Shooting at night gave me the opportunity to illuminate the park’s attractions with my lights. I think light is the foundation of photography: creating light is like giving things a real shape.
How would you describe your approach to photographing the park’s attractions during the night? What did you want your images to communicate?
I always approach my subjects in an objective way: from the front, and without any distortion. I’m not interested in communicating anything specific—an artistic work doesn’t have to necessarily produce the same response for everyone.
Did you have any specific references or sources of inspiration in mind while working on Night Games?
Seeing as this is a part of a larger body of work, the previous chapters served as my main inspirations for Night Games.
How do you hope viewers react to Night Games, ideally?
I hope they will see coherence in my images without finding them repetitive (the hardest goal to achieve in an artistic work).
What have been the main influences on your photography?
The work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, without a doubt.
Who are some of your favorite contemporary photographers?
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Gregory Crewdson, Thomas Demand, Geert Goiris, Thomas Ruff.
Choose your #threewordsforphotography.
Coherence. Rigor. Study.