It is not possible to gain a clear understanding and precise grasp of the urban landscape without taking the human element – which is active in it, feels it, defines its characteristics – into account. Censuses and statistics provide numerical data and information about the presence of residents and travellers in the town, tracing motivations and timeframes, genders and social status, but it is photography which enables us to get to know their faces, to see their clothing, to guess at their emotional experiences and lifestyles, to visualise the extemporaneous or everyday context… in essence, to bring a human dimension to those statistics and information. Portraits of individuals and groups in indoor environments, as well as panoramas and outdoor scenes which include people demonstrate the vital, inter-connected aspect of life in an urban setting, and emphasise the role man holds as the protagonist in the portrayal of this reality.
Some photos are valuable when undertaking historical research. Photographs which outline fashions and trends, a common mentality and live traditions; photos which provide clues about the ruling class and the weight, at a given period, of production, commercial and service activities; pictures of groups and individuals which provide information on places, procedures and the socio-economic dynamics of work; images which portray everyday life, classified by genre, social condition, age, culture; photographs of those who participated in significant events in the history of a town, which document the course of events and population influx.
The collection of individual and group portraits takes us back to the theme of the relationship which exists between the community and the spaces it inhabits. The interaction of the community with urban areas shows itself, other than at times of intense change in infrastructure and construction, in those impromptu and everyday events which either populate or lead to the abandonment of those spaces, bestowing occasional or permanent uses and significance upon them. Public ceremonies, protest marches, religious processions, temporary and permanent markets, sports practices, associations and organisations, training schemes, tourist flows... either stimulate or reveal change, leading to the use of or the abandonment of areas and buildings.
Bergamo residents according to official census figures:
Do bear in mind that during the periods under consideration the physical area of the town was modified many times