artists

donna indiana transessuale

annalisa natali murri

una ragazza e una lettera

claudia corrent

ragazza con una treccia bionda

rena effendi

pugile bambino

sandra hoyn

stanza semivuota con volto in tralice

daro sulakauri

una ragazza addormentata su un tubo

erika larsen

una mano con dei ricami cuciti

eliza bennett

tre persone in un campo vuoto

nausicaa giulia bianchi

novità in arrivo

more to come

transgender bangladeshi woman

annalisa natali murri

cinderellas

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A photographer from Bologna, after her studies in architecture and urban photography in Valencia and a degree in engineering, she has carried out a series of personal and documentary projects.

The Cinderellas in this story are not like the ones in the fairy tales, but are Hijras from Bangladesh. Once venerated and respected for being part of the “third gender”, nowadays these transgender women suffer in poverty as their rights are denied, finding themselves forced into prostitution to survive. But the tragedy of these discriminations is not what Murri's black and whites show us. The portrait of the Hijras we see here is an intimate one, silent and profoundly respectful that shows a glimmer of these people's souls.

Being transgender in Bangladesh

by Silvia Criara

In a country where being homosexual is illegal there's people that fight together against exclusion and violence. The “Cinderellas” of Dacca, shown in the images of Annalisa Natali Murri, make themselves pretty and go out into the streets with the most powerful weapon, self-irony

bangladeshi transgender woman

“The strength of an image lies in the sensations that it pulls out of each of us, it's made of mystery and of what isn't said” says Annalisa Natali Murri, “you have to recognize yourself in it, it must make you relive those experiences and those universal emotions like fear and solitude that every one of us has felt in our life”. Her Cinderellas are the hijras, transgender women from Bangladesh, who fight everyday standing tall to be recognized. A story of diversity and exclusion that speaks to the heart through intense and delicate photos. It reminds us that a world without prejudice is possible and that we must come together to build it.

How was the project Cinderellas born? I was organizing a trip to Bangladesh and I was looking for an interesting story to tell. Surfing the web I came upon a picture of a group of trans women dressed in traditional clothing, they were hijras. I started to do research to understand who they were and how they could be accepted in an ultra conservative society that is mostly muslim. I looked for contacts on location and discovered that the hijras organize themselves in small communities guided by a leader, so I went to meet one in the suburbs of Dacca. When they come out they're almost always left on the streets because it's a stain to have a transgender person in the house, so they are welcomed by these new “families”. They live together, ostracized by society, without a recognized identity, obligated to prostitution, but their energy, their desire to talk about their lives, their stories overtook me from the start.

Why do you call them Cinderellas? I wanted a title that gave the idea of the beauty they carry inside, I didn't want it to be a dramatic work. Black and white has a very strong emotional impact, but in the photographs I tried to show the intimacy and femininity.

Has it always been like this for them? Once they were an elected part of the social structure and were venerated in all the countries of the Indian subcontinent. Their “diversity” elevated them morally, they were perceived as demi-gods, halfway between the human and the divine. They were called to dance and sing during festivities, to bring on good luck and prosperity during weddings and when a child was born. Then the situation changed with the arrival of islamic fundamentalism and, paradoxically, the media. Once their type o entertaining fell out of use the society also lost the belief that they were illuminated beings and they were pushed away little by little. Nowadays they aren't recognized as the third gender even if there about 35 thousand of them, they can't have their female identity, humiliation is continuous and they are subject to bullying, aggression and murder.

“The situation of the hijras changed with the arrival of islamic fundamentalism and, paradoxically, the media”

What did you not expect? The strength, the pride and joy with which they face the day, even just to go to the supermarket to buy fruit and vegetables or to go to the mosque. I saw smiling people, that don't pity themselves and walk about with their heads high. They're fighting, coming together in associations to change things, and they're doing it. (In October Pinki Khatan was the first transgender person to be elected in the history of Bangladesh, now she's vice president of the municipal council in Kotchandpur, a town in the western part of the country, editor's note).

What struck you the most? Their gestures, the attention they have in fixing themselves up and their elegant manners. And then their lightness, they joke around a lot. They're strong people that don't step down in front of anything, self-irony is their shield to move forward.

How do you show psychological consequences in a photo? Knowing how to show intimate aspects lies in your ability to perceive them and to give them to the spectator. I like that whoever is looking at the image re-interprets it, there's always a halo of mystery and of unspoken words that then becomes the power of an image. You need to recognize yourself in it, even if we aren't hijras we need to relive those sensations and feelings, the discrimination, the fear, are emotions that each and every one of us has felt.

“I like that whoever is looking at the image re-interprets it, there's always a halo of mystery and of unspoken words that then becomes the power of an image”

Why do we need a Biennale of Female Photography? It's happened to me several times that people have told me “You know you shoot like a man?”. In the beginning I was even happy, I took it as a compliment, then I asked myself some questions I thought about how sexist these words were. I grew up with great references of documentary photography: Paolo Pellegrin, Alex Maioli, the Magnum photographers, all men. Now there are more opportunities but there's a need to encourage young people, it's important to show new reference models.

You studied construction engineering. How did you step over to photography? It was a slow process, my passion started when I was studying in Spain, I started following a photography and architecture course. Then there was a major step when I understood that I like shooting to show social emergencies, from that moment on I concentrated on documentary photography. At university I was a researcher and maybe this is the trait that ties the two professions together, the fact that you have to document yourself, that research is much more than half the job.

Silvia Criara

© All rights reserved

silvia criara

silvia criara

Journalist

Journalist, born in Milan. At the age of 5 she asked for a pool for her dolls as a present but she didn't receive one. So she had an idea, she took a wooden drawer from her dresser and filled it with water to put her Barbies in it. From that moment she has never stopped following her ideas and resolves herself to talk about people who bring on the bravest ideas to promote social rights, through contemporary art, photography, culture, and design. Stories of creative resistance that she discovers all around the world. She dreams often, even during the day.

a girl and a letter

claudia corrent

vorrei

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From Bolzano, she studied philosophy, working on the communicative and aesthetic aspects of images.

Exploring the concept of a working life, Vorrei's diptychs present teenage students in a professional training school in Bolzano next to their written words of their dreams for the future. In these photos, the author finds problems in the work system that we are all part of, showing it through the eyes of who is about to step into it. The young students in the pictures are still in a limbo of youth that is full of dreams, energy, but also objectives. Each of them gives the viewer a piece of themselves, of their personality that is shaping, posing for Claudia Corrent with freedom and intensity.

Tip-toeing into the lives of teenagers

by Silvia Criara

A hoodie down low on his face, a smile that throws a challenge, crossed arms, hands hanging by the side, they hide inside pockets, they hold a crumpled piece of paper, a pair of glasses. Claudia Corrent's photos give a voice to teenagers because “they can't wait to be heard”

a girl and a letter

Adolescence can be read in the details, it's hidden in gestures, poses, in the hyperbolic desires written by pen on a piece of paper. Sometimes there's one sentence, just one line, at others there's a river of words. “Photography helps me get into students' lives real quietly, it's just a game to get them to talk about themselves and the emotions they feel”, says Corrent, who in the project Vorrei focuses on more than twenty teens through a series of diptychs. Next to their portrait there's a test where they talk about what they imagine for their future. There's the sixteen year old who wants to dominate the world, another who wants to move to Finland to be in the snow, and another who dreams of dancing and never stopping. The photographer tells us about what she discovered on school desks.

You have a degree in philosophy. How does this influence your work as a photographer? It might not seem like it but there's lots of common ground between the two disciplines, there's the same desire to research, to get to the bottom of things. A picture, as much as it is immediate and visible, in reality reasons with paradigms that are invisible, deep, latent and hidden. This double game brings photography very close to philosophy, both gather the visible forms to reveal what isn't seen. Diane Arbus used to say that photography speaks of mystery and so therefore it's a top philosophical method, because it pushes one to investigate and dig deeper and deeper.

“A picture, as much as it is immediate and visible, in reality reasons with paradigms that are invisible, deep, latent and hidden”

At the Biennale you'll be showing the project Vorrei, which showcases teenagers and their dreams. How did you come up with the idea? I've always worked in the social field, keeping a freelance position next to education, I teach photography workshops to middle and high school students. The project Vorrei took life in the Youth Center in the Professional school of Bolzano, a neutral place where the students felt free to speak about themselves. I spoke with them about the future, what they would like to do later on, not just from an employment perspective, but also considering their dreams. I asked them to write down their wishes on a piece of paper, and then, as a game, to have their portrait taken. I was very impressed seeing that many of them had weak thoughts, without any prospects, they were tied to work, while I encouraged them to shoot high. Some time later I did the same course in a higher level high school. I remember a kid who told me: “I want to save the world from the mafia”. At that school there were more fanciful flights of imagination, so much that I thought more than once that even dreams may be socially determined.

What is not talked about much when it comes to teenagers and what should be known? People talk bad about them, they're stereotyped, in reality they just need someone to listen to them, an adult, who isn't their father or mother, it's what they search for with all their incredible sensitivity, fragility, arrogance, depth, with everything they're made of. They're in search of an adult figure that will relate to them without judging them. Before going to the professional school I was a preschool teacher and everyone told me that I would have a lot of difficulties, that there would be an enormous difference. But really if you treat others with respect, kindly, and communicate with them gently the response will be nothing but positive. I've never had problems even in places that because of social difficulties could have been bombs.

“Dreams are often socially determined, there's people who can allow themselves to fly high because they've had the tools to do so”

How did you convince them to have their picture taken? Most of them were easy-going, light, other were embarrassed, they stayed in one position, then let it go, then went back into it. But what was fundamental for them was the fact that they were protagonists, the fact that I gave importance to their story and their future, that I listened to what they had to say. They just need to be seen and looked at. Ammanniti said that adolescence is the period of great existential doubts, great fatigue and great pain that you feel as absolute and that you will never feel as much in other moments. Because then you know how to mediate, to soften feelings, to analyze. It's a period in which you put pieces together and it's hard, more for some and less for others. It's nice to see how much vital energy is released when they see their own portrait, how many thoughts they have. Through photography I can make kids speak, I use it as a model of inclusion. I use what is their language, Instagram for example, to feed their curiosity, but then I shift the work onto a more analytic and deeper vision. When I held a workshop on the difference between self portrait and selfie, to teach prevention regarding internet use, we worked on the differences. If the first one, which has always existed, was used by artists to discover new aspects about themselves, the second one is tied to showing oneself and ends there. So I asked the kids to take a self portrait and then we talked about how they felt at that time, if they were tired, angry, happy, depressed. Some didn't want to be photographed, so together we found a way to create a story about themselves by using only objects, without being present. Adolescence is a monstrous age and it's nice to be able to pull out that plethora of emotions inside of them, photography drags it out.

What is the role of the photographer nowadays? They must know how to ask good questions, not just show an image, they must bring us further. A photographer must make you reason. It's not necessary to bother, just whisper. Horst Bredekamp, who's an art historian, says that “photographs must arrive like a buzz”.

Silvia Criara

© All rights reserved.

silvia criara

silvia criara

Journalist

Journalist, born in Milan. At the age of 5 she asked for a pool for her dolls as a present but she didn't receive one. So she had an idea, she took a wooden drawer from her dresser and filled it with water to put her Barbies in it. From that moment she has never stopped following her ideas and resolves herself to talk about people who bring on the bravest ideas to promote social rights, through contemporary art, photography, culture, and design. Stories of creative resistance that she discovers all around the world. She dreams often, even during the day.

girl with blond braid

rena effendi

transylvania: built on grass

Originally from Azerbaijan, Effendi is a documentary photographer who has been active since 2011.

Her images investigate human nature, people and cultures in contexts of social injustice, conflict and exploitation. In Transylvania: built on grass she brings us to rural Romania that seems to be suspended in time. Work in the fields, in the pasture and the farms has been carried on for centuries with traditional methods, it's a world where labor is a collective physical effort in which every member of the family participates. Effendi's view captures the double dimensions of a rural society that still hasn't been touched by the industrialization of work: if on one hand it's like observing the fragments of a fable, on the other the duress of agricultural life can be read in the actions, eyes and faces of the community.

kid fighter

sandra hoyn

fighting for a pittance

A German photojournalist, Hoyn has been working on projects tied to human rights and social and environmental issues since 2005.

Through a series of black and white images, Fighting for a Pittance documents the harshness of child boxing in Thailand and the exploitation connected to it. The photographs show us not only the violence in the ring, but the psychological pressure as well which goes hand in hand with unleashed competition. Boys and girls go through strict training, bringing their bodies and mind to the limit, as they wear the clothes of adult fighters.

empty room and sidelong face

daro sulakauri

the black gold

Sulakauri studied cinema and photography in Tbilisi, Georgia, to then obtain a degree in documentary photojournalism at the International Center of Photography in New York.

In the town of Chiatura, Georgia, gold has the black color of manganese. This is the nation's largest manganese reserve and the local community is for the most part employed in extraction work. The black gold brings us to the heart of Georgian miner's working conditions in Chiatura. Every day men walk towards the mines, working in harsh and dangerous conditions for 8 to 12 hours a day for a salary of about 270 dollars. The project is accompanied by a sound installation.

girl asleep on a pipe

erika larsen

quinhagak
works between 2015-2019

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American photographer, she uses multi media language to investigate and show cultures that have strong ties with nature.

One of her more famous works is the reportage on the Sàmi people entitled “Sàmi, Walking with Reindeer”, which culminated in a book in 2013. As of 2017 she is a National Geographic Fellow, and is carrying on a project for them that captures the connection between animals and the indigenous people of the Americas. Her photography reveals invisible bonds that tie the places and cultures linked to them, including belief systems. She is currently working on a project in Alaska regarding salmon: these images are still unpublished and will be shown at the Biennale.

Dance with the Youp'ic

by Silvia Criara

In Alaska a special photographer saw the story of ice come to the surface and thanks to the eskimos discovered that nature remembers everything. And even if we've forgotten it, we can always find it again inside of us and in the people around us

woman standing behind a kiln

“Mine is a selfish job, I don't travel just to document the lifestyle of indigenous people with a series of photographs, but because I know I have a lot to learn from them”. These are the words of Erika Larsen, who in the project Quinhagak. Works between 2015-2019 presents four years of life in the Yup'ic community of Quinhagak, Alaska. Economy there is of subsistence and, day by day, you encounter distant times and ways to live, different from those of a city. “I needed to find that feeling again, reading and interpreting the signs of nature that mankind doesn't remember anymore, that's why I went back and forth for four years, to immerse myself in the community and in their stories” she says.

What did you learn from the Yup'ic? I discovered that the earth records everything that happens, it has a memory of the processes that governed it, everything is written: erosion, seaquakes, ice melting. But I'm learning that there's also an ancestral memory, which constantly reminds us that we and nature are inseparable, we're part of her and she's pert of us. The Yup'ic live on the Bering Sea which hits the coasts with violent storms, so much that it eats aways at the coastline with impressive speed. The villages are sinking, while the sea advances relentless. The elder of the community had already figured it out in the nineties that the earth was sinking because of global warming and the melting away of permafrost, that layer of permanent ice that covers the ground. They live it as a natural evolution in the history of Earth, but they know that climate change has accelerated the process. The village where I was moved eight times before becoming a permanent settlement. Now it's in its ninth incarnation, but the houses have already been moved by the erosion line, because they were sinking again. This fate is common to all villages in western Alaska and it's an enormous social problem. A house costs 70 or 80 thousand dollars, then you have to take care of moving, you need a lot of money. How will people deal with it? Who's going to pay for it?

We have an ancestral memory on us, which constantly reminds us that we are part of the environment and it's also part of us

What would you have never imagined? Nowadays, with ice melting, there's entire villages full of archaeological evidence popping up in Alaska. Like Nunalleq, close to Quinhagak, where there's an archeological site in which scientists are bringing ancient artifacts to light. In Quinhagak everybody knew about Nunalleq thanks to stories told through the generations, but at a certain point it wasn't mentioned anymore because over time it had become covered in ice. Oral tradition said that the village was destroyed during the Bow and Arrow War, a war between natives where everybody died. Only now have those oral testimonies found a physical evidence. All this is changing the lives of many people and it makes you understand how important it is to preserve memory of what has happened. Kids go see the findings, they rediscover their history, they listen to their forefathers' songs and ask the elderly to dance. In the last seven years they've started doing the Yup'ic dance again. In 2018 I went back with a Russian photographer, Evgenia Arbugaeva, and we did a reportage with 25 children. They were the ones that used the cameras and they documented their daily life, the digs, they told the story of their village and their images will be part of the cultural center's archive.

How did you introduce yourself into the community? Friendships are built over time, taking care of people, this is part of human beings and their relationships, photography has nothing to do with it. I went back to the village many times, when I was there I lived in Sara's home, but I spent lots of time with the whole community, which is very small and I rediscovered the value of bonds and the importance of the people we have around us. I'm not the photographer that goes there to tell a single story, because the story itself is a collective and intimate work, of stories inside other stories. Storytelling is always a collective effort, you can't do it without a public and without the people that belong to it.

Friendships are built over time, taking care of people, this is part of human beings and their relationships, photography has nothing to do with it

Do people in Alaska feel like their guests of nature? The inhabitants know very well that if something isn't in season they stop having it. And when you accept that you don't have it, you understand that you are really part of the natural realm. Of course, there's always a shop in town where you can buy a frozen pizza, but they pay a high price for it and purchases don't even reach 50% of their needs. When we're in communion with the earth we understand that every action we carry out has consequences and that we need to be more cautious.

Is there a message for the public in your work? I don't have declarations, but I know that showing people these ways of living in harmony with nature places that memory that's part of us right in our face. That's why I say that my work is selfish, because it's a process that I need to study for myself and I know I'll need a lifetime to recuperate this memory. And it's because of the fact that the people that I've portrayed in photographs are different that they'll teach each of us something different, they'll resound in many different ways according to each person's life experience.

How do you keep up with work, travel and your son? I've traveled a lot since my son Paulo was born, he's six years old now. He knows that when I travel it's to learn something new about the world and myself, and when I come back what I've learned doesn't stay in photographs, but the experience also spreads to my family at home. Years ago I was far from ready to have children, then during the project on the Sami in Scandinavia I learned that the community can raise them in a positive way, something that in general doesn't belong in our culture, which is more individualistic. So I had to study again and learn from them. My mother, my father, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, all of the people around me raise my son when I'm not around. So, to be “human” for me means to rediscover the value of the community that surrounds you.

Why do we need a Biennale of Female Photography? I never thought about a reason, but I know that every person brings the world they grew up in along with them. The fact that I'm a woman influences my point of view, it influences the angle I give to my stories, how I mold them, but also the way in which the people I work with perceive me. If I go to certain communities being a woman automatically gives me the possibility to be presented to certain people, to open up worlds that would be forbidden to men. Therefore, why not have a Biennale with this focus? There will be a collective energy that will be unleashed, the kind that is created when you put a group of women together in the same room.

Silvia Criara

© All rights reserved.

silvia criara

silvia criara

Journalist

Journalist, born in Milan. At the age of 5 she asked for a pool for her dolls as a present but she didn't receive one. So she had an idea, she took a wooden drawer from her dresser and filled it with water to put her Barbies in it. From that moment she has never stopped following her ideas and resolves herself to talk about people who bring on the bravest ideas to promote social rights, through contemporary art, photography, culture, and design. Stories of creative resistance that she discovers all around the world. She dreams often, even during the day.

embroidered hand

eliza bennett

a woman's work is never done

A British artist born in 1980, Bennett MAFA City & Guilds of London Art School, initially studied and trained in Fashion design at Middlesex University. Her early experience of working in low paid ancillary roles as both a care worker and seamstress provided the catalyst for the project.

Embroidery is traditionally associated with the idea of female work, intended as a meticulous and agile job, far from the physical fatigue of male work. In A Woman’s work is never done, Eliza Bennett subverts this juxtaposition between male and female work, using the top layer of her skin as a canvas for embroidery. Using a technique that is considered female, the artist gives a representative image of the hands of women busy in ancillary occupations invisible to society. The intent is to show how the work of women is far from easy and light.

three people in an empty field

nausicaa giulia bianchi

women priests project

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Bianchi is a documentary photographer profoundly oriented towards themes on spirituality tied to the feminine and the divine.

In the Catholic world the ordination of female priests is still not allowed and as such represents a taboo for the Catholic community around the world. Whoever disobeys this rule is punished with excommunication. Nonetheless, in the last few decades, there has been an international movement of women who have decided to disobey, becoming ordained priests and starting a profound process of spiritual and religious innovation in the Catholic communities where they live. With Women Priests Project Giulia Bianchi collects the stories and images of the women bringing on this unprecedented change. In her evocative images we can find pieces of places that are as familiar as they are charged with innovation thanks to the transformative role of female spirituality.

Will it be the Church of the future?

by Silvia Criara

A movement of disobedient and battling religious women claim the access of women into priesthood and the right to have a voice, spaces and equal power. The testimony of a brave photographer who has gone into the depths of their stories and discovered that their allies, very often, are priests themselves

woman priest

Before starting to shoot, Giulia Bianchi always puts on a shirt and buttons it up to the top. These small gestures done slowly, over time, have become her personal ritual, because, as she says: “Photographing is something very serious”.
A photo, in fact, can have us float on the surface of a story, keeping us on the outside, without scratching us. A portrait can graze a person without having us come into contact with them for even an instant. But photography, if it wants, can dig so deep that it provokes us and makes us think. “It's a duty to ask the viewer questions, not confirm what they want to be told, not reassure them of the fact that the world is where we're all the same, beautiful and healthy”says Bianchi.
Her Women Priests Project, which she will be exhibiting at the Biennale, has changed many people's point of view. With reportage and portraits she tells the story of a revolution brought forward by about seventy disobedient women, on the first line inside a movement that claims gender equality in the Catholic Church and asks for a radical change: to give the go ahead for female priesthood, which is prohibited, even put in the same category as pedophilia. The pictures testify in a vivid, poetic and intimate way the life of these women, their spirituality, their ambivalence, the communities that welcome them and their allies, who very often are priests themselves.

“Photography, if it wants, can dig so deep that it changes our minds”

How do you photograph what can't be seen, such as spirituality? In my projects I search for the sense of life, what can be found by digging deep. Most of what we see around us are just packages, there's no intensity in eye contact, in the living body, the soul. You often see faces that are only surfaces, that become slogans, propaganda, stereotypes. Nowadays our challenge is to tell the story of those people, their complexity and their secret. It's to poke at who's looking, because photography, if it wants, can make you change your mind.

Can photography change the balance of power? Sure, but to do so it must show the people who don't have that power. If I shoot something with intimacy, empathy, you, the viewer, will feel very close to the person portrayed.

What makes a story unique? When it's important for many people and if it asks you to change the world. It must be a social commitment.

How did you become a photographer? Did you have a revealing moment? I was traveling in Burma, in 2008. The same day I arrived in Yangon I risked my life because of a fall. It was night, I couldn't see much and I accidentally slipped into a sewer. I hurt my leg and a finger, but the real problem was finding a way out of that black, dark hole hidden in a semi-deserted street. In the end I made it, I had so much adrenaline in me that I pulled myself up with the strength of the my shoulders and pretty quickly too, me, who at the gym doesn't even lift five kilos. The moment I saved myself I thought that I didn't want to dedicate my life to anything else except my passion, photography. So I quit my job, I was s software architect, and I followed my dream. This change pushed me to become a researcher, to overcome my shyness and throw myself into adventure. Photography is a clock for vision, it allows me to meditate, reflect, try to understand things by looking at them in the face.

“The beauty of life lies in the awareness of what you do and look at”

What do female priests say about your Women Priests Project to the people who see it? They want to completely overthrow the stereotype that a priest has to be a man, dressed in black and white and who is superior to you. Instead they're soft, open, curious, they're mysterious and feminine, they don't say that they get between you and God, but they want to help you, they hold out their hand, they want to bring you to a land that isn't made of dogmas, but of mysteries. Female priesthood in the catholic Church is a right that belongs to women, the right to be a spiritual leader and deliberate in theology. Notwithstanding this in my project there aren't only women, I've also photographed their male allies.

What's the idea that people have of them? They're courageous, they challenge the power of the Church and ask for it to transform. Most of them used to be catholic nuns and missionaries, that to be ordained priest were willing to be excommunicated, to do it they also have to find a disobedient bishop also willing to be expelled. They are profoundly devout women, they're part of a generation in which the world was different, many are old because they joined the Church in the seventies, after the Vatican Council II, when it seemed that change was possible, but then it didn't happen because ultra-conservative popes took lead one after the other, even if they were very much loved. This is why young women rarely join convents, because they recognize the limits of this experience. We can't talk about a global movement, but two years ago four thousand nuns asked the Pope to reconsider female deaconship, the first level of the holy order. Symbolically women have been given “high standing” roles, but in matter of theology nothing has changed, it continues to be taboo. There are studies that say there's a better chance they'll ordain married men rather than allowing a woman to become priest. There's a shameful misogyny, people still think that women aren't good, that if they arrive it'll be a mess because they'll want to change things, or at least do them differently, to have their own say. Therefore, why invite people that will be bothersome to the table of power, who will want change, who will say no to cardinals with brand name shoes?

Who impressed you the most? I photographed all over Italy, in Canada, in Columbia and the United States. But the person who impressed me the most is an African-American woman, from Chicago, who was 86 years old. She was a mystic, a woman full of mystery and freedom. She and others taught me to be open, to disobey. Female spirituality lets us peek into the Church of the future, of inclusion of all genders, all races, minorities, social classes. What they do in religion we should be doing in politics, take action instead of complain.

"In a historical era in which it's easy to think that we have no power, women priests remind us that every one of us can choose to try."

How did you connect? I stayed with each of them for at least two weeks, because I wanted to dig into their personal lives, understand their complexity, I wanted to leave a historic document, photograph them, their albums, the church, the community. Lots of coincidences happened at that time and when so many happen you feel you're going in the right direction. It seems like the world is speaking to you. It was like each of these women presented me with a different piece of reality, truth, mystery. And this magic made me a believer.

What effect does it have on the public? I've seen people get angry, leave, but I've also seen people become emotional and cry. Many people told me they would like to meet the religious women, I received unexpected recognition from many people, even very humble and simple. I remember a farmer in Columbia telling me: “Wow! I don't see anything strange, if you think about it Jesus dressed as a woman, with a tunic”.

Why is there a need for a Biennale of Female Photography? Because we need to see through the eyes of women. I can already hear the chorus of male colleagues complaining because we've created an event exclusive to us. It's too bad we aren't recognized in the same way and that we are lacking spaces where we can be seen. It's time to do it. Absurdly enough, us women have interiorized a male gaze on the world, the most popular one, the gaze of the patriarchal white male colonialist. And you can see this in pictures. If you try to do something different they look at you disdainfully: “Oh sure, you do these things tied to emotions and how you feel”.

Silvia Criara

© All rights reserved.

silvia criara

silvia criara

Journalist

Journalist, born in Milan. At the age of 5 she asked for a pool for her dolls as a present but she didn't receive one. So she had an idea, she took a wooden drawer from her dresser and filled it with water to put her Barbies in it. From that moment she has never stopped following her ideas and resolves herself to talk about people who bring on the bravest ideas to promote social rights, through contemporary art, photography, culture, and design. Stories of creative resistance that she discovers all around the world. She dreams often, even during the day.

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