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Luce istantanea wishes to thank Laura Geronazzo and Ultreya for kindly providing us with a review copy of Luce istantanea and for answering our numerous questions. Also thanks to Charles H. de Brantes for facilitating contact with Ultreya.

Andrej Tarkovskij
Luce istantanea
Edizioni della Meridiana, Firenze
Hardcover, 225 mm x 160 mm, 135 pages  
ISBN 88-87478-54-6  

We recently received a copy of the Italian book Luce istantanea (Instantaneous Light) at the newsdesk. Comprised mainly of Polaroid photos taken by Andrei Tarkovsky in Russia and Italy during the period 1979 to 1984, this is a highly impressive, and beautifully implemented book. It is of sturdy construction, and the content is presented on high-quality paper. The layout, and the attention to detail, is remarkable. The Polaroids themselves are nothing less than stunning, bordering on the transcendental; we vaguely recall our own less than memorable experiences with the Polariod medium and can't help but marvel at Tarkovsky's skill, his keen eye.

The book is produced by Ultreya, who describe themselves as "a group of cultural operators and creators of book projects in the fields of art and photography." According to Laura Geronazzo of Ultreya, their history is very closely tied to Andrey Tarkovsky, which is what provided them with the initial inspiration to try to locate these photos, and to seek to have them published. Although Ultreya produced the book, they are not book publishers; the book was sold to Edizioni della Meridiana, Firenze, who had previously published the Italian edition of the Tarkovsky diaries, the DIARI: Martirologio (Andrej A. Tarkovskij (Ed.), January 2002, ISBN 88-87478-30-9).

A breakdown of the contents of Luce istantanea is as follows. Hyperlinks lead to English-language versions of the respective essays, kindly provided to by Ms. Geronazzo/Ultreya.

  • Pages 6 to 10: An introduction by Tonino Guerra, called A Fond Farewell.
  • Pages 11 to 60: Tarkovsky Polaroids taken in Russia, 1980–1981
  • Pages 61 to 116: Tarkovsky Polaroids taken in Italy, 1979–1984
  • Pages 117 to 130: An essay by Giovanni Chiaramonte, called The Image as Remembrance.
  • Pages 131 to 132: Index keying individual photos to location and year.
  • Page 133: Some Polaroids are accompanied by quotes from Sculpting in Time and Martyrolog. This page provides the full bibliographic references.
  • Pages 134 to 135: Chiaramonte, Guerra, and Tarkovsky biographical information.

Ms. Geronazzo tells that the 60 photos presented in Luce istantanea were selected from a pool of about 200 photos, the complete set of surviving Tarkovsky Polaroids. The original photos are the property of Andrej A. Tarkovskij, and Ultreya co-operated with him very closely during the book's production. The selection process itself was performed by Andrej Jr. and by well-known Italian photographer Giovanni Chiaramonte. The photos were all positives, unique copies. The original prints were scanned for this book project, without any further processing. The size of the original Polaroids are exactly as presented in the book: 9 x 11 cm and 9.5 x 10 cm (i.e., two types of Polaroids), including the frame. The book may thus be viewed as a facsimile edition. Published February 2003.

June 1, 2004 Update: Thames & Hudson, United Kingdom, have released Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids. This is the long-awaited English version of Luce istantanea. [MARCH 2005 UPDATE: Book is sold out, and will not be reprinted.] The Guardian (U.K.) website features seven of the polaroids, here.

The 60 original prints were on display in an exhibition in Commune di Gonzaga, Italy, from February 9 to March 16, 2003.

A brief review (in Italian) of Luce istantanea may be found here.

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