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White is said to be the silence of colours. I doubt whether this is really so, as white is never simply white – it’s always hued, it’s always narrative. Snow, for instance, white as it may be, never keeps silent, it always tells a story, according to the way light reflects upon it, to the traces left in its texture or to no more than its mere age.

There’s pure fresh snow, which has just fallen, and then there’s that early spring one, when cities witness the thaw of ashy drifts covered in dust and mud that may themselves bury anything, including the memory of a perfect whiteout. We call them both by one word: snow, the same we call white white and black black. Sometimes, though, words prove a poor means for conveying sensations. That’s when images step in, but only all the more so as if to hit us like a ton of bricks. It’s a conspiracy.

With photography, things get even messier than in real life, for here we have to deal with reality as an artifact, with its illusion. Good photography never shows you only the visible, but also what misses from within the frame, the things that you, as a beholder, can recreate.

True photography is but the incipit of a story worth carrying on. And white, instead of staying put like it should do the same way as a “yes” should be nothing but “yes” once you say it, it becomes an entangled bundle of hemp in the bag of an old-fashioned plumber. It actually becomes a world.

We say, therefore, pure white, dirty white, shiny white. We also say as white as milk, as white as a sheet (when we go sunbathing for the first time in summer), as white as snow – and that’s how the wheel has come full circle. Talking about black and white photography, things start running amok as white spots actually become black holes absorbing me, stealing my sight and turning me into a visual prisoner.

And as though the situation weren’t complicated enough with this (non)colour white, once we blend or overlay two white shades in a coloured picture, it becomes utterly hopeless. Furthermore, if all along this tint game some colour touches creep in, then the white won’t stop talking anymore, it will ramble forever, the only way out of this story being to simply blank it out.