The placeless reality of Nine Elms, where the starkly modern clashes with Victorian terraces, inspired Romantic enthusiast Francesco Russo’s photograph, Urban Beings V
Coming from Treviso, Francesco Russo finds that even in modern Italian cities development can feel preserved in aspic. But during his architecture studies at the University of Venice Russo had a Romantic fascination with London’s post-industrial landscapes and their swift loss. Perhaps that is what brought him to live and work here in 2016.
The placelessness of Nine Elms as a site of global speculation brought him back to earth with a bump but that Romanticism stuck. It resulted in the curious ambivalence of this image; as if acknowledging some sublime threat bearing down on the city from on high, but still leaving the viewer transfixed by its beauty. A sense of otherworldliness is made literal; Russo intimates new development as a kind of extra-terrestrial presence. ‘The counterpoint of the Victorian city with encroaching modern development is like the silent menace of violence,’ he says.
But for him, it is also stunning – like the meteor shower that triggers devastating events in John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids, where its fantastic, glorious rain of bright, green light is alien, mesmerising – and malevolent.