Flâneur at work

Street photography as cultural resistance


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  1. About the project

    Please note: this page is currently a draft and is subject to further updates and revisions.

    “Flâneur at Work” cleverly contrasts the term ‘flâneur,’ evoking images of an aimless urban wanderer, with ‘work,’ which implies purposeful and productive action. This interplay isn’t just a playful use of language; it is at the heart of a photographic approach that casts street photography as an act of cultural resistance to the unyielding demands for speed and efficiency that dominate contemporary life.

    The active roll as the stone rolls, in obedience to the stupidity of the laws of mechanics.

    — Friedrich Nietzsche

    Equipped with a digital compact camera whose technical characteristics encourage a spontaneous and authentic aesthetic, the project distances itself from commercial hyperrealism and encourages a deeper connection with the surrounding world.

    This image captures a bustling street scene during a rain shower. People are navigating a wet cobblestone street with umbrellas in hand, reflecting a diverse range of reactions to the weather. One prominent figure is walking confidently without an umbrella, while others are more cautiously shielded. The scene includes storefronts like "Gay-Odin" and "Sisley," adding an urban commercial feel to the atmosphere. The sunlight peeking through, illuminating raindrops and wet surfaces, creates a lively and dynamic environment, typical of a rainy day in a busy city.
    Napoli, 2020

    The aim is capturing the punctum described by Roland Barthes—the striking detail that captures the viewer’s attention and adds emotional depth to each image. This choice highlights the need for an intuitive and accessible approach to photography, allowing for a more thoughtful and genuine portrayal of reality.

    An intoxication comes over the man who walks long and aimlessly through the streets. With each step, the walk takes on greater momentum; ever weaker grow the temptations of shops, of bistros, of smiling women, ever more irresistible the magnetism of the next streetcorner, of a distant mass of foliage, of a street name. Then comes hunger. Our man wants nothing to do with the myriad possibilities offered to sate his appetite. Like an ascetic animal, he flits through unknown districts—until, utterly exhausted, he stumbles into his room, which receives him coldly and wears a strange air.

    — Walter Benjamin

    By adopting the spirit of the flâneur in street photography, each image offers a fresh perspective and invites reflection in a world overshadowed by the ephemeral, countering the relentless pace of our digitally saturated and stimulus-rich lives.


    About the author

    Stefano Carotenuto is a designer at the National Research Council of Italy and an amateur street photographer. Originally from Naples and now based in Milan, his photography has earned recognition from Magnum photographers Martin Parr and Steve McCurry, and has been showcased at international venues like Art Basel Week at the HistoryMiami Museum. He has been featured in interviews by photographer and writer Maurizio Fiorino in Corriere Della Sera Style Magazine and by photographer Mario Mencacci on FIAF.net. Stefano is also a co-author of the book “10 Street Photography”, published in 2023.

    To get in touch please write me an email.