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The inclusive intimacy of nowadays female photograpic gaze

We interviewed A Soft Gaze at Intimacy's Curators the photo book by SelfSelf Books

The inclusive intimacy of nowadays female photograpic gaze We interviewed A Soft Gaze at Intimacy's Curators the photo book by SelfSelf Books
Elisa Moro x Laura Davì
Liza Kanaeva Hunsicker x Benedetta Donato
Maria Maglionico x Alessia Locatelli
Laura Tota
Alessia Locatelli by Federica Belli
Laura Davì Eolo Perfido per ANFMj
Benedetta Donato
Anna Breit x Alessia Locatelli
Martina Parolo x Benedetta Donato

Talking about intimacy through a photography book may seem like an oxymoron, but A Soft Gaze at Intimacy is not. The photographic book produced by the independent publishing house SelfSelf Books tells stories of reality as seen up close through the eyes of 34 international female authors, who with personal and social influences, tell human stories of intimacy through bodies, landscapes, objects and human relationships. The project, financed through a crowdfunding campaign ending May 11 at 23:59 - in which it is possible to participate with different packages (link)-, provides for the donation of part of the proceeds to the association in support of Ukrainian women CVIT, a women's reality that since the outbreak of war has been active in bringing humanitarian aid to the civilian population. With a whispered delicacy and a refined visual language, dictated by photographic times and different in artistic nature to consumer images, the collection wants to focus on the power of female experience. The visual synthesis of each author is accompanied by the texts of important Italian curators active in the artistic, photographic and curatorial scene including Benedetta Donato, Laura Tota, Alessia Locatelli and Laura Davì and the creator of the project Martina Parolo, to whom we asked what are the challenges behind such a project, how to tell the intimacy and to define a multi-faceted role as that of the curator grappling with the mediation of languages of others in a world full of dialects and formats.

Alessia Locatelli by Federica Belli
Laura Tota
Laura Davì Eolo Perfido per ANFMj
Benedetta Donato

The female point of view in photography has had to make its way to the sound of unprecedented glances: it is enough to think of the photographers Brigman or Woodman who were the first to represent the minorities of freaks and - to understand how the female gaze puts a magnifying glass on minorities to describe them really, without leaving the story incomplete, bringing a cultural value to those who observe and analyze it. Alessia Locatelli, curator of the photographic book and partner of the Venice Women's Biennial, tells how female photography has always been a means to promote social inclusiveness:

"it is an inclusive gaze that serves to go beyond gender itself, telling and educating today's audience about all points of view, especially artistic ones that individually summarize reality, with reverberation in the public. It is necessary to deepen and know the various nuances before overcoming it, that's why the female gaze does not hate the man but asks for his collaboration and embraces reality with an inclusive intent.

In this sense, recounting intimacy with the book tool places those who choose to participate in the creation and purchase a cultural product such as a collection of photographs by female authors, represents an evolution of the female gaze itself towards the intimate sphere, on which all the curators agree. "If in the past in photography the body was a means of discovering the relationship with the space that was constantly changing and to which it was necessary to adapt, today the focus on intimacy brings the body to be an instrument of the discovery of the relationship with oneself," says Martina Parolo, founder of SelfSelf Books and photographer in love with the feminine sensuality that pervades the shots of women.

Martina Parolo x Benedetta Donato
Anna Breit x Alessia Locatelli
Maria Maglionico x Alessia Locatelli
Liza Kanaeva Hunsicker x Benedetta Donato
Elisa Moro x Laura Davì

She herself said that in order to select the women photographers present in this book she used as a filter: "that the work they show me is fundamental" excluding any kind of participation without stimulus and creative need from those who think they are doing it for money. This change of focus represents an unprecedented awareness for those who shoot, perhaps also the result of the forced stop in private spaces produced by the pandemic, as Laura Tota confirms:

"It's not just a matter of looking and being looked at, as much as it is a motivation behind the shot: I think this is the major evolution of intimacy in recent years and it's also what characterizes the selection of "A Soft Gaze at Intimacy." The heart is not the subject photographed, but the gaze (gaze, precisely, through that subject is looked at and allowed to be looked at)."

Such an emotionally engaging project could not have existed without the overall gaze constructed by the book's curators, whose awareness, experience, and is fundamental to mediating between all the artistic individualities in the collection and delivering a cultural product that communicates an overall gaze, a well-rounded narrative understandable by all. As Laura Davì, photo editor first engaged in photo-journalism and now in the field of art, tells us, the selection and curatorship of the project's photos defines the curator's gaze as an overall look on all the authors who contribute to the creation of this publication.

The same opinion held by Benedetta di Donato, another curator of A soft gaze at intimacy, the role of connecting the dots and of maieutic neat reinterpretation of the artistic conception of others, is 

The objective (of the curator) is to make them fit together as one does with the instruments of an orchestra, which are characterized by distinct sounds, to trace a coherence between the thought or the "motive" of the authors with respect to the images produced and a coherence between them. There is a discourse that then becomes the fil rouge in a choral narrative of this magnitude.Artists possess a capacity for synthesis that allows them to convey content, in the case of photography, in one or a series of frames with which they wish to narrate and represent something they have experienced or observed.

In an art market perennially fighting for the right attention against the society of performance and consumer images, becoming a successful photographer requires passion, study of both the basics and one's own personal style but above all of the environment, of the various facets of a photographic project but first and foremost, of a critical eye suited to one's own time, the curators agree. In its emotional and representational grandeur, the project A soft gaze at Intimacy has achieved the desired results and will land not only to the publication and home of the crowdfunding supporters, but to a live event on June 12 in the spaces of Pergola 15 in Milan, with an event open to the public to be discovered.