Is it a good idea to show photographs of Venice emptied of its tourist groups, cruise ships, or occasional visitors who normally crowd its squares, streets and canals? Don’t we run the risk of reiterating the rhetoric of advertising images, whose objective is to make of this place an attractive product to be sold?

Indeed advertising images rely on simple ingredients that the Coronavirus pandemic has served us up on a plate: as natural a decor as possible, no crowds, nobody around – or just very few people, and preferably staged in a way as to get the observer to identify with them. If we type « Venice » in the search box of any search engine, we will find this winning formula in the vast majority of photographs. Venice looks less and less like a city and more and more like an inward-looking ghostly universe. It has become a victim to its exceptional nature, which policies focussed exclusively on tourism has overexploited to the point of endangering the spirit of place and its authenticity. The stream of clichés emphasizing the mythical dimension of the city in the collective consciousness reflects a simple fact: Venice is the focus of a marketing strategy that has excluded its inhabitants.

In this context in which the abuse of images contributes to a commercialisation of Venice and to the decline of its identity, is it therefore a good idea to display new photographs that portray it at all hours more attractive than ever? 

The SWOT series is not meant as a showcase. SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) is a technique widely used by businesses to help their strategy planning process.  

Presented as a matrix, it provides a summary of all favourable and unfavourable internal and external factors that have an impact on a strategy to assess its relevance and sustainability over the long term.

Taken during national lockdown, the photographs making up the SWOT series aim at documenting the concrete aspects of the city: its strengths and weaknesses, the visible threats it faces, and the opportunities offered by the temporary disappearance of mass tourism; enough material to nurture a new marketing strategy the focus of which would finally shift towards the Venetians and the singularity of the places they inhabit.

Text by Delphine Trouillard