The Medium is a Mess
by Jason Fulford

104 pages
Color photographs / Hardcover
Hardcover / 7.75 x 9.75 in.     
Edition of 500
Studio Blanco, 2018

Publisher’s Description: 

In the autumn of 2017, Studio Blanco invited photographer Jason Fulford to Reggio Emilia, Italy, to take pictures of the ateliers of Reggio Children. He spent a week in the city with the aim of documenting and celebrating the creative process globally known as the Reggio Emilia Approach. This book features photographs by Fulford in the ateliers and streets of the city, as well as pictures previously taken in Japan, Korea, and the United States.

“Our task, regarding creativity, is to help children climb their own mountains as high as possible.” Loris Malaguzzi

In Reggio Emilia, the first public nursery school was created in 1945 with funds from the sales of a military tank, three trucks and six horses left behind by fleeing German soldiers. The school was managed by a group of volunteers, since the role of a professional teacher for pre-schoolers did not exist yet according to the Italian law.

Twenty years later, a teacher and psychologist named Loris Malaguzzi took inspiration from those first educational efforts to set up a pioneering educational system, which was tested in a new preschool called Diana. It lay in the middle of the city’s main park. It had a square at its core, three classrooms, two small gardens, a kitchen and an atelier. It was full of light, because most of its walls were just big windows.

Today the Reggio Emilia Approach has become globally renowned: all year long, delegations of teachers flock to this small city to learn about it. Malaguzzi based it on a few basic ideas: the families’ participation, the fact that teachers should work together, the presence of a kitchen and an atelier inside the school and, most importantly, the conviction that the child should always be at the centre of her own development, that she should be let free to express herself in the “hundred languages” that humans can use.

This book is a tribute to this approach. In it, shapes and colours from the ateliers are juxtaposed to urban details. Every now and then, some children’s faces peek from a page, as if they were busy making sense out of what they were seeing in order to finally assemble all those elements. Layer after layer, new meanings emerge. We are tempted to grab them, crystallize them, and jot them down but they only last the time of a blink, before being reshuffled with what is coming next and what is still to come. Let’s not worry about it. Isn’t this the experience of growing up, after all?

Jason Fulford is a photographer and cofounder of the non-profit publisher J&L Books. He has lectured at more than a dozen art schools and universities and is a contributing editor to Blind Spot magazine. Fulford’s photographs have been featured in Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, Time, Blind Spot, Aperture, and on book jackets for Don DeLillo, John Updike, Bertrand Russell, Jorge Luis Borges, Terry Eagleton, Ernest Hemingway, and Richard Ford. His published books include Sunbird (2000), Crushed (2003), Raising Frogs for $$$ (2006), The Mushroom Collector (2010), and Hotel Oracle (2013). Fulford is also a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient.