C41 Questions On with Tony Brugnoli and Federico Radaelli about car tuning

Questions On is the video interview format created by C41. Three are the ‘simple’ questions asked to the two photographers Tony Brugnoli and Federico Radaelli.

This episode is together with Tony Brugnoli e Federico Radaelli. These two photographers, who can be defined loners, for the first time have decided to work together to create a sensational project that talks about car tuning by uniting two different but equally fascinating worlds: Italy and Japan.

You can watch it on the C41 YouTube channel and also read it below.

This book, in which you tell the world of car tuning, seems to be an upgrade from previous works. The reference to motorcycles is always present but why did you want to develop an entire book that speaks very closely about cars?

T: To me photography represents a means to portray or to catalogue what I am experiencing.

F: I travelled a lot for work, and lately I’ve been focusing on topics that have always been interesting and dear to me. Motorcycles and cars have always been a passion to me since I was a child, so that it was nice to link my job as a photographer with this passion that I have for many years.

T: In my work I have always tried to represent my reality. What did motors represent to me Well, I grew up in a period in which the motorcycle, in particular when you turn fourteen years old, you wait for the fourteen years just to get the license and buy the motorcycle, because it was the means that could allow me freedom. So that in the moment I got the motorcycle, the first thing I have done was going to Milan, new inputs, big city, so motorcycle represented “a freedom”. Then you grow up, you get the 125 motorcycle, and later the car. So that it comes natural that to me, in this historical period, the car is a sort of companion next to me. Then what happened? It happened that by chance, in a very funny way, I jumped into another reality, the one of the drifting. So I was in Lissone with my car, and towards me a young guy was performing on a wheelie on a booster, so I thought “this guy, so cool”, he reminded me of when I was fourteen years old, I wanted to tell him “great, you rocked, I love you, I’d like to give you a hug”. So that I took the roundabout and I started following him and clearly this guy thought I was a crazy person “who knows what he wants from me”. So of course he took the way to reach his home thinking “now at least I’m home, he cannot annoy me anymore”. So we reached his place, I lowered the window’s car and I told him “cool, you reminded me of when I was a kid and that’s beautiful” and he replied me “hi, thank you, I like motorcycles and motors, I do drifting” and I said “you drift? you are only fifteen, in which sense you drift?” and he told me “yes, I am part of the European championship” and then I found out that this guy was a pilot and that his work is driving cars and do drifting, which is a car’s discipline. And in that moment started immediately a beautiful synergy with this guy, and I got involved in a dimension where everything around me was amazing. I began to catalogue our days together, cars, the first drifting’s competitions, I went with him, I followed him, he bought a new car, he worked on a new car, then I got to meet his friends, so that in this last year and a half I collected this huge material that – once again – is not “material”, it was simply what my life was, what now is my life. From here it began the fact that car was very present, but in that moment I did not have a story, and here is when Federico came in.

How did you feel editing a book with another person? You are usually “lonely” photographers why this collaboration? How was it born?

T: Federico is an amazing person that I got to know in a funny way, that it is a bit the synthesis of this work, the key to read this work.

F: I was looking for a spare part for my motorcycle that I could not find, and he kindly gave it to me as a gift, which is a quite rare thing nowadays.

T: From that a beautiful friendship began and at a certain point I told him “Fede, I really like your work, would you like to do a project with me? Maybe we can collect the pictures I’ve taken here and the pictures you’ve taken in Japan and publish a book together”.

F: It was very nice working with him, because we worked spontaneously as photographers, in a really organic and funny way, and there was not that sort of competition, often present between photographers.

T: And with Federico it was natural because I saw in him this: very raw pictures, with no frills, and the chance wants that me and Federico use the same cameras, shooting in the same way, with the same attitude. For the first time – because I’ve never done it –  I said “I want to realize a book, because with you I want to do it in this way, and I know we can speak the same language and tell the same things”. The book has no title, has no text, it has not preface, it has no page numbers.

In the work we see two very distinct realities, Italy and Japan, united by the world of cars. How do these two worlds meet and dialogue within the book?

F: Tony’s work is more focused on the Italian scene. In fact we can see many interesting motors, that have made our history, like honda zx, booster. I instead went more far away: when I was living in Japan I started put effort and I found a few contacts of these guys that, when they were younger, were part of “bosozoku” that are biker-gangs, very popular in the 80s and 90s. They were these guys that used to modify in a very extreme and showy way their own motorcycles and cars, and used to drive in the countryside during the night doing lots of mess. And this is the funny aspect as they represented a bit the Japanese rebel youth. It was very nice photographing these cars and motorcycles and it was quite a long work as I don’t speak Japanese and they don’t speak English, so that the communication was complex, but in the end we managed it anyways, as the very point of contact was the passion for motors and they saw in me a very genuine interest towards the exploration of their reality that, in being a Japanese reality, and being Japan a very close country, an island, is not seen from us overseas. Japanese and Italian realities are very similar on the hand one, as both countries have an important heritage in motors, they both want to modify and customize their own car, and there’s someone doing it in a very delicate way and someone doing it in a very extravagant way, in order to show their own personality, and this is a very nice and interesting way of expression.

T: If we also dig more deeply into these two movements, they don’t merely represent just sportive cars, they instead represent something more, and what do they represent? They represent the desire of going against a system, the will of breaking some rules, and doing it not simply by throwing a stone and breaking a window, but by having something able to represent you, also on a visual level.

F: I really liked seeing all these customizations in Japan as they were all hand-made, realized during the weekends, in garages, made in the evening between friends, while listening to music and detaching from the external world, to exclusively focus on the motorcycle, on that change and to how make it work in the very best way, and this to me is a very unique thing. On the one hand it is very similar to my work process, as I travel and photograph on my own, and when it is just me and my camera, no other thought exists, my only goal is to photograph, to visualize something to photograph, and having a vision of what I am doing.   


Featuring: Tony Brugnoli and Federico Radaelli

Curated by Alice De Santis
Editor: Alice De Santis

Time to read
8 min
Words by
Published on
5 March 2021
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