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Bravura piece of parking captures the spirit of Genoa

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Jan-Carlos Kucharek

A no parking sign is a challenge that can't be ignored

Accompanying his partner to Genoa for her five-week crash course in Italian, Craig Auckland came, at some point, to take this photograph. In the Italian fashion, the star is a car less parked than parachuted in; but that is as it should be. Auckland was inspired by Italian architect turned photographer Gabriele Basilico, the self-styled ‘measurer of space’, whose epic studies documented whole cities, not least a war-torn Beirut in 1991. With his free time, Auckland roamed the streets of Columbus’ birthplace with his camera to get under the skin of a city himself. Among the many thousands of shots he took of the bustling mercantile port, this backstreet one he chose to represent it is, at first sight, strangely low key.

But consider the depth of field garnered from the long exposure; twilight on a crisp January night illuminating the walls in a cool blue pallor, the streetlights further accentu­ating them in almost hyperreal clarity. The damask rose pink of the small house’s walls is satisfyingly counterpointed by the dark leaf-green shutters, with the plastic canopy over the entrance matching them in colour if not in domestic feel; bizarrely skewing the language of the home to that of a nightclub or bordello. 

The city’s urban grain is intimated in the grander if equally shabby apartments at the back; and its topography, rising steeply out of the sea, in the hairpin bend that marks the home’s boundary. In the layers gradually drawn from the image, there is ultimately a cultural one too. Beyond the rough, brick-stepped pavement and beneath a ‘No Parking’ sign that seems less a prohibition than an open challenge, is the impossibility, to Saxon eyes, of that car tucked behind the traffic sign. Bravo!   

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