Pietro Milici is a photographer and visual artist based in Italy. His ongoing project titled ‘Let Our People Grow’ is an insightful investigation into the world of cannabis. He says, “Let our people go. Let our people grow”, this was a slogan that the American government circulated during the Second World War. This message, aside from encouraging the population to fight for its country, had the secondary aim to encourage the farmers to plant cannabis. It refers to the growth of a plant that years ago was outlawed, the growth of the people that had to defeat the German navy.”
The idea to research this world was born in January, 2013, when after living in Barcelona for a few months, someone brought Pietro to a social cannabis club. The first club that he approached was in the neighbourhood of Gracia, this is where he had the idea of photographing the members of the club to immortalise them during the action of smoking. He wanted to register the exact moment of symbiosis that is established between the subject and the object.
Q. Have you always wanted to be a photographer?
Actually no. Photography is a passion that I had probably been avoiding for a long time because the real first photo I took was in 1990. I was with my parents in Rome. My father taught me how to take a picture, I was using a Minolta x700, the same I sometimes use now. I was 6 years old, and I was pressing that button for the first time while my parents were hugging and laughing. I still have that photo and the memory it comes with. Only in 2005 I started using that camera again. In my life I have been doing a lot of jobs. I am a marine biologist. And only in the last years of university – while I was working as a photographer – I realised that I wanted to do something more with that. And then I decided to put all of my time and all of myself into this art.
Q. During your time in Barcelona, was there anyone whose story particularly stuck with you?
This is a tough question to answer. I met so many people that it is hard to have just one favourite story; At the same time it would not be fair to all the other people and all the other stories. When I think at all my time there and the people I met, I see it like all these people are making one story, one model they are sharing and taking one step forward everyday.
Q. What are some of your favourite cannabis clubs in Barcelona?
I have a lot of clubs passes, of course my investigation gave me a way into all these clubs. But my favourite is ‘La Maria Gracia Club’. I like ‘Club Fum’ and the ‘StrainHunters Club’ as well. Each one of them is particular in its own way, and what you live and feel in each one of them is very different.
Q. Where did you find inspiration in the city, other than the cannabis communities?
Well the city is full of inspiration, and can give you different points of view. Of course reading and researching gives me the bases to develop my project, but my inspiration was already in me. I mean that in my case it was something I knew, something I was discovering everyday and really close to me. I just used a camera to share it with the world. It was like an insight research, digging in to my world more deeply.
Q. Where will you be for 4/20 next year?
This is a really tough question to answer now. I am constantly travelling, I’m never sure where I’m going to be next. But if I am not working on something in particular, I think next year I will be in Palermo in the South of Italy, I guess enjoying a good batch of marijuana.
Q. Do you have a nemesis?
No! I guess not at the moment! Sometimes I think I am my own nemesis. Sometimes working on artistic projects is hard: finding the inspiration, the right spot to shoot a photo, the right point of view, the right words, the right image, etc…That’s what I challenge everyday. But that is also what gives me the strength to continue to do what I am doing.
Q. What’s the first thing you do when you walk into a party?
It depends of what kind of party is. But most of the time I go near the DJ or group playing to see what they use, what instruments, how they act, etc.. And if I like it I go straight to the bar.