In an essay on the poet Enrique Lihn’s In the dark room, the writer Alejandro Zambra says: ‘childhood is, then, a time in the service of ghosts, a place to put images that, seen from the present, form a kind of foundation. A difficult foundation, of course, unsteady: the darkroom is where photographs are developed, where images appear, for the first time fixed on paper, that both authorise and destroy identity’.
In Youth, Tristano di Robilant’s first show at Tristan Hoare Gallery, one feels that Zambra might just have easily been describing the Italian-American artist’s lucid images from his own childhood. The exhibition gathers together di Robilant’s early photographs with his later glass and bronze sculptures. In the light of these mature works, photography appears as a site of primigenio. Literally ‘before generation’, this term captures a kind of ideal anteriority of the sort revealed in di Robilant’s youthful gaze.