It’s almost sixty years since the Italian filmmaker Frederico Fellini turned an erotic satire into a modus operandi, a way of living that would come to define an entire coastline.
La Dolce Vita. The sweetness of life.
If the movie is the story of a handsome writer living in Rome and torn between the wild life of sex and society and home and domesticity then the lifestyle is one of hedonistic excess, a life free from the shackles of responsibility.
“Even the most miserable life is better than a sheltered existence in an organised society where everything is calculated and perfected,” Fellini said after the film was released to rapture from critics.
This spirit of La Dolce Vita is captured in collections from the photographers Akila Berjaoui and Remy Gerega.
Barcelona-based Berjaoui roams the Amalfi coast with her little Nikon film camera every year. Long ago her heart was stolen by the colours, the spirit, the heat of Palamo, Positano and beyond.
“It’s a kind of Italian jungle. Warm and quiet. Unique and non-transferable,” she says.
Remy Gerega, who was born in Perth but raised in Montreal, is better known for his dazzling, and somewhat abstract, aerial photos of outback Australia. But in the month he spent on the Amalfi Coast he was en thrall to the symmetry of the beach umbrellas, the rawness of the coast and the electricity that he felt on the beach.
“It’s a totally different experience to Australia,” says Gerega. “The juxtaposition of the smooth, blue, clear water and the jaggedness of the cliffs. It’s completely different to any beaches I had been to, even the buildings clinging to the face of cliffs was a revelation. Stunning barely begins to describe it.”
In his photographs, Gerega says he looks for contrasts of colours, blues abutting orange for example, and a composition that he feels hasn’t been seen before. The bow of a wooden speedboat as it noses its way to the beach; a long lens foreshortening the distance between cliff-face buildings and beach umbrellas of a uniform orange.
“I love how relaxed it is,” he says. “Everybody grabs their bottle of wine and heads down to the beach and chills out. All the villa look down to the beach, vistas of ocean, sunrise and sunset. It would be a very sweet place to spend a year. A lifetime.”
For Berjaoui, La Dolce Vita is in her blood, it’s inside her cells.
“When I get there I feel good. I feel alive. Everything come alive. All of my senses. I feel like I’ve stepped into another world. Another time. Another era.”
As Fellini says, “We must get beyond passions, like a great work of art. In such miraculous harmony. We should learn to love each other so much to live outside of time… detached.”