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The connections between and among women in the latest number of 'The September Issues'

An interview with founder, photographer and artist Mary Rozzi

The connections between and among women in the latest number of 'The September Issues' An interview with founder, photographer and artist Mary Rozzi

What does it mean to be a woman today? And how problematic, complicated and fascinating is it? Mary Rozzi, photographer, artist, creative mind, tries to answer this question through her acclaimed biannual publication The September Issues, which aims at "celebrating the diversity and power of global feminism". A few days ago the Revisionism Issue was published, which features moreover a Gucci beauty special starring women over 60, and we had the chance to sit down and have a chat with Mary Rozzi herself. 

This number of The September Issues mentions Adrienne Rich’s quote which states: The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet
Mary Rozzi hits me by saying: Deciding to start my own magazine means that I had to give up a lot of other things that I was doing which gave me a stable income, however, I never felt so excited by running The September Issues, I do more with less, if I have to work from 6am till midnight 7 days a week I’m gonna do it with as much positivity as I can, because this to me means I can make an impact on other women’s lives and this gives me the fuel I need to keep going on. Culture, positivity, and change. 

#1 Where did this need of a magazine entirely dedicated to women come from?

I was very frustrated with my career. Things were quite stagnant and I couldn’t really express my creativity at its fullest. The way the industry was shifting, the value of photography was diminishing, because of social media, the amount of content of digital media we were all suddenly sharing, we were losing the vision of photography as a form of Art. So I asked myself “How will I sustain myself after this revolution?”, I decided I would start a magazine, but what will this magazine be about? I thought about myself as a woman photographer, how difficult it has been to be pretty, to be American. The fashion industry is mainly from a male perspective, and I thought, there must be a lot of other women struggling with the same problems. I started asking if people wanted to participate in this project that I had and everyone was so excited about it, timing-wise it was very positive, which I couldn’t imagine that would be the case.

#2 How difficult is it to be a woman in the Creative Industries?

At the time, I didn’t really feel I was supported a lot as a woman. I’m constantly being asked to consume a lot, as a woman, not just as an artist, in this society we are constantly being sold to. The pressures to buy fashion, to look a certain way, be a certain way is pretty intense these days and a lot of people cannot keep up with that, and it’s not available to them. It creates a feeling of inadequacy, comparing ourselves to other people, especially in young teenagers, I see a lot of anxiety and increased bullying.

#3 Sometimes it can be women being bitchy with other women in order to impress men, do you think the criticism that comes from other women is shyness or insecurity? 

I think the best way is to focus on positive, not let anyone affect me and I have to be confident about myself and it all comes down to insecurities and how can I make these women feel better about themselves? It’s quite ugly to hurt someone. We have to be as positive as we can, and I think beauty wins in the end. We are gonna support women and this is why the magazine is called The September Issues cuz it’s about fashion art and culture, but it’s also about supporting women. The idea is that all the material we produce for the magazine eventually one day we’ll be able to auction it off and raise money to help support those organizations helping women.

#4 How unfair is fashion having an expiry date for older people? Your cover magazine is a beautiful image part of this makeup editorial you made with Gucci Beauty with women over 60 right?

That’s not fair at all. The older I get it’s the freer I feel, which is really exciting, as long as you feel happy of the way you look, that’s the way you walk out in the World. Why do we have to wait so long to feel good about ourselves? We are all the same, no matter if you are 19 or 65.

#5 Have we lost the connection?

We have a lot to do. The magazine aims to create a community. A real sense of community, we are working on events, talks, workshops. People on their mobiles feel that sense of disconnection as long as they are living their life. I suffer from it a lot, too. With The September Issues, the aim is connecting with other women. Photos are the most straight forward way for seeing yourself in me, seeing myself in you, it’s a kinda subtle way of the things hidden in you to come through.

#6 How can we shift culture through culture, try to educate people?

How people are thinking without shoving things down their throat, instead, through inspiration reading about others’ lives. 

#7 When did you decide you wanted to start your own magazine? 

This idea of running a magazine was always there. I always had a lot to say, but I was quite shy. I didn’t have the courage to do it. I felt comfortable hiding behind my camera. If I feel good about the image, if I love the picture I take, others’ judgment doesn’t’ affect me. When you take photos you are looking in someone else’s soul, it can be very uncomfortable for both of you. There’s a magic that happens. I think it can come kinda easy, I’ve been told that I’m pretty good at that. I’m pretty good at that finding that connection, it has to be very quick, cuz sometimes you only have a few minutes with someone, that’s the art of image: making is that decisive moment of capturing the stories. 

#8 You managed to turn some impressive names and quickly became popular, I’m thinking about Winnie Harlow? Names of people that had more than just the looks, they had an actual story to tell.

I’ve been confused, do I put people in front of the camera, without looking beyond their looks? What else is there apart from their pretty face? That’s so easy, there are so many beautiful people out there. I think that in the selection of the models when I lived in Paris, I felt I wanted to meet them because maybe I could be surprised. Maybe in the portfolio, they looked great, and then live they looked different. That’s what so confusing about dating apps nowadays, if they look good, meet them!

#9 This is the fourth issue of September Issues, where do you want to take it? 

I would like to concentrate on a gallery of work, make films, producing with other artists, not just photography, women directors, digital artists, live events, podcasts, it’s very ambitious. My team is based all over the world, our fashion direction in London, I’m in Los Angeles, the photo director is in NYC, but this project is not just about the USA. We wanna continue to grow stories. I want to create content through a creative lens, we must continue to be inspired.

#10 Have you had feedback from people you don’t know?

I have received so many, I just can’t keep up with replying. You can feel the emotional component of the magazine, because it’s made by women it’s emotional, and you don’t feel manipulated, I wanna make sure I hear their voices, I ask a lot of artists to write their own stories, which can be challenging. Even though they are not writers, it’s way easier to get depth and personality come through. 

#11 Do young kids need mentors? If you wanted to inspire younger generations what would you say to them when they think they need loads of money to start their own project when in reality it may not be true?  

Young people think they know everything, and really they know nothing at all. I think the best thing they can do is to watch, read, learn, and keep learning. I directed massive productions of 100 people, and you never stop learning. I appreciate their confidence, I have a lot of concern, I don’t know how this is gonna unfold. It’s very easy to hide behind a text, you have to be very brave to admit that you made a mistake, that you don’t know something. They break up in a thousand pieces, if you made a mistake you can learn and move forward. If I had that confidence when I was 20, it would have taken me 20 years to get to this point making my own magazine, so I feel I can learn a lot from them, too. 


The September Issues Revisionism Issue is now available here
All images courtesy of The September Issues.