Ugo Locatelli, born in Brussels in 1940, graduated in architecture from the Politecnico di Milano, lived and worked in Piacenza where he died in 2023. His research on visual languages began in 1962, based on the capacity of photographic language to extract signs of the ‘real’ from superficial and uniform gazes. His early experiences in shooting and darkroom printing revealed the possibilities of ‘writing with light’ and considering the image as an open system, a dialogue between non-conformist ideas. Since 1965, a series of exhibitions, events, and reflections have extended his work, nourished by explorers of thought, vision, and the capacity to wonder, met along the way (a mental geography).

Some projects were realized together with other authors, for example: with Luciano Caruso the verbo-visual work ‘Storia di un pedone bianco (innamorato) di una regina nera’ in 1968; with Ben Vautier of the Fluxus Group, the Non-Art International Festival in 1969; with Sebastiano Vassalli the work ‘Teatro Uno-Il Mazzo. Il Gioco del Teatro del Mondo,’ exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1972 in the ‘The book as a place of research’ section; and interacting with museum structures: Museo della fotografia storica e contemporanea, Turin (1997, 1999, 2004, 2005); Salone della Fotografia, Venice (1999, 2000); Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg (2000); Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Piacenza (2002, 2003); Museo Archivio Politecnico, Turin (2004, 2006); Museo della Carale, Ivrea (2007); 91mQ Art Project Space, Berlin (2010); Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Piacenza (2014, 2015, 2017); Museo Astrofisico dell’Osservatorio, Turin (2016); Museo dei sanatori di Sondalo-Sondrio (2017); FilmForum-International Film Studies Conference, Gorizia (2018); Museo Civico d’Arte, Modena (2018/2019); Museo Geologico di Castell’Arquato, Piacenza (2018/2019, 2021).

In 1997, he started Areale, an interdisciplinary laboratory on possible readings of levels of reality. A process of learning through discovery of the qualities of vision and thought, a never-ending or final reconnaissance. From objects to relationships, from the known to the unexpected, in material, emotional, mental places: every place is like a darkroom. Two theses have been written on his work: ‘Ugo Locatelli 1962-1972. Photography, writing, experimentation’ (Filippo Lezoli, University of Parma, published by Fondazione Italiana per la Fotografia, Turin 2003); and ‘Mente Areale: Perspective of multisensory communication’ (Simona Licata, University of Catania, 2006).