Bartolomeo Celestino – Surface Phenomena
Designed by Narelle Brewer
Bartolomeo Celestino has been returning to a particular section of Sydney’s coastal fringe – atop an otherwise unremarkable set of cliffs in the eastern suburb of Bronte – day after day, year after year, to undertake the protracted task of setting up his large-format camera and training his lens downward to the fierce waters below.
In the images that populate his debut book Surface Phenomena – which is designed by Narelle Brewer and published by Perimeter Editions (Melbourne) – the horizon, the land or any other contextual details are absent; the ocean is everything and everywhere. The mass of turbulence and white water and the deft flashes of calm that these photographs describe occupy a fundamentally different formal and conceptual space to the iconography of the Australian coast. His mode of practice might just as proficiently be read through the late Modernist prism of seriality. Without the luxury of context – without foreground and horizon – Celestino’s images become loaded with formal, allegorical and interpretive potential. We can only begin to approach an understanding of the nature of our chosen subject through a process of assiduous repetition.