Hierofanies is an approach to the work of the Romanian philosopher Mircea Eliade, who coined this term to refer to the awareness of the sacred in the everyday and the nearby, in a mountain, a forest, a river. Maselli photographed landscapes traditionally linked to the sacred and the magical, suggesting to the viewer a series of questions: Is there really something supernatural about these spots? Can nature become impregnated with that something? Does nature inspire religious feelings in man?
Maselli, who works with a large-format camera, shoots with an almost scientific definition in the search for the utmost possible neutrality and objectivity, letting the viewer be the one who, getting past this “physical appearance” depicted, inserts themself –or not (the artist says that he doesn’t want to force their hand)—into this other sacred dimension that nature both insinuates and conceals.
Although Maselli doesn’t take sides a priori, in my opinion, he doesn’t shirk from the difficult task of exploring this possible other dimension, of portraying the vast and the invisible, not with the fundamentalist attitude of a believer or of a parapsychologist, but rather with the desire to share with the viewer the excitement in art’s ability to “interrupt” our regular way of seeing things and allow us to see them in a new way.
In any case, the mere fact of his choosing a subject like the possible existence of the sacred, which is conspicuously absent in contemporary Western artistic discourse, seems to be a positioning in and of itself, since it somehow recognizes that the question of the existence of “something more” is far from resolved or settled.
Nietzsche, who declared the death of God a while back, had something to say about it:
And how much naïveté, respectful, childish, and boundlessly foolish naïveté lies in this belief of the scholar in his own superiority, in the good conscience of his toleration, in the unsuspecting, unsophisticated certainty with which his instinct treats religious people as a less worthy and lower type, above whom he himself has grown up, out, and away from—the scholar, the small, presumptuous dwarf and member of the rabble, the diligent and nimble head-and-hand-worker of “ideas,” “modern ideas”!
F. Nietzsche, from “The Religious Nature”, Beyond Good and Evil.