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Work / Photography

Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu document the new rebellious youth of Sardinia

Located in the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia is a large Italian island and, for photographer Giovanni Corabi, a place he spent many summers as a child. “Last spring I wanted a change of scenery and to be immersed in nature, so I thought of travelling to Sardinia, an island close to my heart,” he tells It’s Nice That. Decision to travel made, he got in touch with his friend, Milan-based creative director Roberto Ortu who’s originally from Sardinia, and the pair set about documenting the island they both hold so dear.

Giovanni and Roberto spent around two weeks in Sardinia, starting in the south and then travelling north. As an island, Sardinia is grounded in strong traditions but, in recent years, an energy has taken hold of its youth who want to break free of these constraints, creating their own way of living. It’s this group of people, and their connection with Sardinia’s land, that the duo chose to focus on.

“I was born and raised in Sardinia, I know how people feel when they come from there,” Roberto explains. “The traditions are strong and can sometimes feel heavy. Many decide to leave the island and, for the ones who stay, it’s hard to find their own voice.” Giovanni and Roberto’s series is, therefore, a celebration of the “rebellious youth that lives on the island but is an active part of where the culture is headed, somewhere between tradition and modernity.”

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia

The result is a series of portraits which interweave scenes of extraordinary nature with tropes of teenage bonding and friendship. While the beauty of the backdrop to these portraits was clearly made in response to the island itself, so were the subjects that Giovanni and Roberto chose to document. “We had an idea of the itinerary of the trip and the stories we wanted to tell but, once we started travelling around, we would often make decisions on the spot and cast locals as we went,” Giovanni recalls. “We would be out and see someone on the street that looked interesting, we would start a conversation and see if there was ground for a story. That was often the first step.”

This process imbues the series with authenticity and spontaneity. Despite the elaborately composed and staged imagery that features throughout, there is an honesty to the images which, in turn, depicts the island in a way many have never seen it before. Giovanni tells us: “Audiences are used to images depicting very traditional settings that aren’t necessarily part of the local’s everyday life and thoughts.” He, however, “wanted to explore more interesting realities”. Instead, capturing “new faces, new generations living their parents’ land differently”.

On what he hopes the series says about his homeland and its people, Roberto responds: “We wanted to celebrate an attitude. The land has been close to untouched for many years and sometimes the static reality of the island can feel overwhelming. Our subjects fight such feelings. They live in harmony with nature and use it as a thriving force to push their own narratives!”

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia

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Giovanni Corabi and Roberto Ortu: Sardinia