Special Issue #100

Alexo Wandael

Occhio Che Cammina

Born and raised in Bolzano, Italy he studied architecture in Ferrara, before to move to Berlin, LA and NY where he now resides. After 10 years of practice he decided to follow his passion: photography.
His genuine love for portraiture, his knowledge of art/architecture and understanding of style made his work and name recognizable in the industry. His work has been seen in magazines such as Vogue Italia, Uomo Vogue, Vanity Fair, Russian Vogue, Russian Elle, Amica, AD Italia, The Observer and The Telegraph. Among his clients: Bulgari, Hermes, Chopard, Nike, Vivienne Westwood and Nike. Celebrities like Katy Perry, Roberto Bolle, Oleg Cassini, Patch Adams and Paco Rabanne are among his portraits. His fine art work was shown in Europe and US and it is present in the permanent collection of the FIT Museum in NY. In 2012 Wandael was in Afghanistan for a reportage about the female jails conditions and the military training of afghan women. In 2013 completed a 5900miles solo coast to coast on his motorcycle to create a beautiful photographic book: Dear America from NY to SF. “I would love to dedicate this project to all those Italians who left their families, their comforts, their mamma by honoring, with my modest contribution, their courage, their sacrifices and their achievements. I think that Italiany.us is a deserved tribute to my beautiful country that forged such incredible talents”. For more information, please visit www.wandael.com / www.alexowandael.com

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What do you do in your life (work and fun)?

I am an architect, still inside, and a photographer/artist…I love spending time with Arcadia (my Drifter 800) riding preferably in Nature, I love the ocean and therefore surfing, anything that has to do with animals and nature…

What made you leave Italy and chose NYC?

I left Italy in September 1997 because of my purism, my idealism, my romanticism, my love for contemporary architecture and my curiosity… After 3 splendid years in Berlin and a summer in Los Angeles I fell into NY and it was love/hate at first sight… My centurion-odysseus soul accepted the challenge and here I am.

Please share your best memory in the City.

This question is so unfair… I am not sure why I created it! Anyway…After 14 years there are so many of them…NY is literally a smoothy of magic moments and best memories. The multicultural and the multiethnic experience is an evergreen best memory affecting the DNA day by day, it is the best thing can happen to you when you just feel part of this ALL… A very strong memory is the 2006 world cup victory and the all night long celebration on the Hudson River… when you are outside of Italy it is easy to feel more Italian and somehow patriotic… Still the best memory of NY was a tragic one: it happened on the 16th of September 2001 when I landed in a wounded big Apple on an almost empty 747… later when I crossed in the night the Queensboro bridge, watching the dark silhouette of Manhattan with millions of lights, I felt I had to help somehow this giant.

What made you choose this specific location and outfit?

In my project I was for my luck always behind the camera… When I was shooting the amazing Trio in Union Square and I was explaining that I wanted to shoot 100 portraits…they suggested me I had to be the #100… I thought a lot about it… and after 1 year when I was installing the third exhibition, in the BBAX gallery in Santa Monica I decided, why not, to get myself in front of this same camera and take a quick snapshot of me in the gallery with some of my italiany behind me… I felt I had to… I wanted to share their being my subject, at the end sharing is caring, isn’t?

Your thought about this project, ITALIANY.US

The idea of the project was born from a photojournalism trip I took to Afghanistan with the Italian army in 2012. I had many conversations with the soldiers there and got to know them. It was then that I was faced with their reality that many or some of them decided to join the army because of the lack of options they faced back home in Italy, that young people had a choice to either go to war or leave the country. This contemporary phenomenon occurring in Italy happened often enough that it had a term: “brain drain” or “talent escape”. The reality is many very talented and passionate people leave Italy battered by economical and political crisis to seek new opportunities and a new life. For many of them who were able to leave their beloved country, the U.S. had provided that fertile ground for them to realize their new lives. It is this flight, motivated purely by the dreams and courage of these people, that I strive to capture in each photograph of them in the new place they have found for themselves. For this reason my project does not focus on a particular type of profession, age or social class and its not based on the success achieved, but it is a 360 degree picture of the Italian society abroad, in this moment in history. All fields of art, sports, food, science, law and finance, are represented by these hard working and talented people.

How would you describe being an ambassador of the italian style/culture abroad?

Willing or not we are all ambassadors if not of the style for sure of the italian culture… Metaphorically speaking I see this process like the process of pollination operated unwillingly by the bees… In the same way when we leave our mother culture and go and live in another one, we bring a bit of Italian pollen to create something new. Perhaps we know, we don’t or we don’t want to know it, but at the end the results are there… and I think it is a beautiful and undeniable fact.

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    NYC, Miami, Hawaii, LA...

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A visual celebration of Italians working, living and loving in NY and in the US