Johnny Abbate – Boys Melancholy Blue

We spoke to Johnny Abbate, an Italian photographer based in Berlin, about his melancholy work, abandoned spaces, and aliens. The loneliness is almost as beautiful as the male subjects and their abandoned landscapes turn the lost into the desired.

Johnny Be Good

Who is Johnny Abbate?

“A kid lost in the woods during an electric storm, who’s moved by a perhaps uncharacteristic anthem of hope.”

What would you like to say about your art?

“Embrace the melancholy, feel the sadness, let the aliens enter.”

Do you have a favorite piece that you have created?

“The whole series Cross. I traveled all over Europe taking pictures of forgotten places and then I’ve connected them with the local boys. The melancholy I was looking for magically appeared like a blue ghost stuck on the snowy mountains of regret.”

Ghost in the Village

Lots of your pieces are lonely and incorporate abandoned places, tell me more about that?

“I was a problem child and every time something destabilized me, I ran to hide in an abandoned village in the woods near my house, and I felt safe. I still feel safe when I walk in destroyed places or when I’m in the darkness. Today my research is more scientific. I try to discover the story of a place and putting its pieces together, to keep the memory and to let people know about it. Where I come from, it’s all earthquakes, volcanoes and superstition; the sacred South Italian Trinity. Even only thinking that there was a ghost in the village would have been enough for everybody to abandon the place.”

We have a selection of his photography below for you to enjoy. For even more of these evocative images follow Johnny Abbate on Instagram.


As an Italian photographer based in Berlin, where is home for you?

“In a car, driving without destination or living next to a glacier. I felt I was at home when I fell asleep in the car in front of the Svínafellsjökull, a glacier in Iceland. Looking at that river of ice gave me so much calm and I slept like a baby. When I woke up, the car was surrounded by fog and I couldn’t go away. I stayed there another day, just eating in the car and going out once in a while to touch the pieces of ice floating on the water, examining the stones, looking at the birds, and hearing the echo of my voice. That was HOME.”

Love, Pigs & The Future

Do you believe in love?

“No. Love is immobility. I believe in the Joker, not in Batman.”

What is the attraction of Berlin for you?

“I like to go in farms to caress baby pigs before they are replaced by hipster art galleries.”

Where do the best models come from?

“From outer space.”

Is symmetry important to you?

“Yes, asymmetry irritates me.”

What’s next?

“Working on a book, and on an exhibition in a very unusual place.”


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