From 19 March to 26 June 2022 the Magazzino delle Idee in Trieste presents the exhibition I, she, the other - Portraits and photographic self-portraits of female artists, curated by Guido Comis in collaboration with Simona Cossu and Alessandra Paulitti. Produced and organized by ERPAC - Regional Body for Cultural Heritage of Friuli Venezia Giulia - the exhibition traces, through ninety works, the photography of the last hundred years and allows to evaluate the new conception of women and their role through a succession of extraordinary images from Wanda Wulz to Cindy Sherman, from Florence Henri to Nan Goldin.
The portrait and the photographic self-portrait are an extraordinary testimony of the difficult process of self-affirmation and the conquest of a new social identity by female artists in the twentieth century and in the early years of the new century. Portraits and self-portraits are places of confrontation, but also of conflict between different expressions of identity. Conventional forms of representation are contrasted with new ways of expressing one's personality; the consolidated roles of the representation of women, the repetitive poses borrowed from traditional portraits give way to new ways of expression.
From a model in the service of an artist, the woman is transformed into an active and creative figure. The portraits made by men - such as Man Ray, Edward Weston, Henry Cartier-Bresson, Robert Mapplethorpe , just to name a few of the photographers presented in the exhibition - are accompanied by portraits and self-portraits of female artists and photographers, including Wanda Wulz, Inge Morath, Vivian Maier, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Marina Abramović.
The exhibition is divided into sections, each of which accounts for a different form of representation of the roles that women play in the photographs. The section “Artists and models” is dedicated to women who have been creators and at the same time have lent their faces and their bodies for the works of others, as is the case with Meret Oppenheim, Tina Modotti, Dora Maar.
The section entitled "The body in fragments" collects the self-portraits that return images of partial bodies, reflected in fractured mirrors, with the epidermis crossed by lines that interrupt its integrity, as if this reflected the difficulty of representing oneself. The portraits of the seventies starring Valie Export, Jo Spence and Renate Bertlmann ironically mimic the traditional image of the woman as a mother, housewife or sexual object. "One, none and a hundred thousand" collects the self-portraits of the artists who, from Claude Cahun to Cindy Sherman, they used their bodies to interpret different identities or stereotypes through masking. Another section deals with the theme of stereotypes in the representation of cultural and sexual identities, yet another to those in the definition of beauty standards while some photographs are dedicated to artists alongside their own creations as in the case of the famous portrait of Louise Bourgeois executed by Robert Mapplethorpe .
The exhibition is accompanied by the catalog Me, she the other - Portraits and photographic self-portraits of female artists published by Skira with images of all the works on display and in-depth texts by Guido Comis, Anne Morin, Giampiero Mughini, Anna D'Elia, Laura Leonelli and Alessandra Paulitti.
Nude with a Cut Star, 2005
© Marina Abramović
Courtesy Galleria Lia Rumma Milan/Naples.