Bear in the Canal

PhotographerAdam Marelli
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

Started in 1884, by his great-grandfather, Roberto Tramontin continues to build gondolas in the traditional Venetian way offering apprentices to work in a tradition on the brink of extinction.


Everything in this series was shot in a squero (Venetian boatyard) that was started by Roberto Tramontin’s great-grandfather in 1884. My presence was lack luster at best and believe me, I’m not in when it comes to Venice. In fact, I don’t know if anyone who is not born in Venice is ever in. The impact on the images is that I needed to rely on my construction background to understand what I am watching. There was no guided tour. Had I not been involved with custom fabrication for so many years, the work would not make much sense. As a builder there are things that I look for, which are never explained. For example, gondolas are not built from drawings, like houses or cars. They are built using age old templates. The templates would make zero sense if you found it on the floor. It’s kind of like a construction riddle that was half designed to protect the proprietary secrets of the squero and the other half for design simplicity. The Venetian naval historian Gilberto Penzo even notes that the division of the gondola is all on the golden ratio, once again unifying the work of the art with the craftsmen. Everyone is speaking the same design language at the core.

About Photographer

Artist & photographer, Adam Marelli is based in New York City. His projects explore the ancient crafts of building, maestros in their workshops, and designs handed down through generations. Whether he is photographing a master carpenter, dodging fish at a local market, or at the drafting table, he is in constant search of the threads which bind our cultures together. He is the resident photographer for the Leica Akademie NYC.