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Oliviero Toscani Visits MIT, Talks of Photography, Freedom and More

An inspiring and sometimes provocative Oliviero Toscani visited MIT on Thursday, October 6, 2011, to talk about his work as a photographer and answer questions on art, beauty, freedom and many other topics.

In the opening video, Toscani explains his vision of personal freedom. “To be free is to free yourself of your human complexes,” he says. “If you do that, you don’t want to give up. That’s why some people get so excited.”

The first half of Toscani’s talk, titled “The Message Against the Medium,” was dedicated to a long visual presentation of some of his most famous works, including many ad campaigns for clothing brand Benetton, in which he dealt with social issues such as racism, pollution, poverty and injustice.

Toscani also talked about the difference between photography and cinema, saying he doesn’t go to theaters anymore to watch movies. “They’re boring,” he says. “A still image that you are looking at is the only image that can put you in front of your conscience.” (Listen to the rest of this conversation in the video below.)

For Toscani, photography isn’t only a form of art. It is perhaps the most elevated form of communication given to people.

“Art has nothing to do with morality and common beauty,” says Toscani. “Even tragic events can be beautiful from an aesthetic point of view.”

Toscani also spent some time talking about photography as “historical human memory.”

Finally, here are some pictures of the event:

This event was possible thanks in part to MITaly.

About Nicola Orichuia

Nicola is an Italian journalist and media enthusiast living in the United States. He keeps an eye on the Italian-American communities across the country and is always looking for positive stories to highlight.