The Automaton is based on a story told to Paolo Ventura as a child. It centres on an elderly, Jewish watchmaker living in the Venice ghetto in 1943, one of the darkest periods of the Nazi occupation and the rule of the fascist regime in Italy. The city where the watchmaker has lived his entire life, now desolate and fearful, is the stage on which the story unfolds. The old man decides to build an automaton (a robot), to keep him company while he awaits the arrival of the fascist police who will deport the last of the remaining Jews from the ghetto.
Paolo Ventura is internationally known for the complex creative process he adopts. Having created the narrative script for the book, he then builds elaborate models and miniature figurines in his studio and incorporates them in what appear as almost film sets. These are then photographed and his final artworks are the photographs of these constructed tableaux. The Automaton is a photographic narrative from beginning to end.
Paolo Ventura's work has been exhibited widely throughout Europe and the States. Currently he has three exhibitions of his work on show; in the Italian national pavilion at the Arsenale at the Venice Biennale; in the exhibition 'Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities' at the Museum of Art and Design, New York and at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery, New York. His works have been acquired by prominent public collections including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., Maison Europeen de la Photographie, Paris and the Martin Margulies Collection in Miami, Florida. Two monographs of Paolo Ventura's work have been published: War Souvenir (Contrasto, 2006) and Winter Stories (Aperture and Contrasto, 2009). He is also included in the new publication Photographic Memory: The Album in the Age of Photography (Aperture / Library of Congress, 2011). Born in Milan, Paolo Ventura currently lives and works in New York.