Me, her, the other: in Trieste the image of women in the last hundred years

From March 19 to June 26, 2022, the Magazzino delle Idee in Trieste presents the exhibition Io, lei, l'altra - Portraits and photographic self-portraits of women artists. The exhibition traces, through ninety works, the image of women in the last hundred years.

How the image of women has changed in the last hundred years of history: the exhibition Io, lei, l’altra - Portraits and photographic self-portraits of women artists, curated by Guido Comis in collaboration with Simona Cossu and Alessandra Paulitti, scheduled from March 19 to June 26, 2022 at the Magazzino delle Idee in Trieste, tells us.

The photographic portrait and self-portrait are an extraordinary testimony to the difficult process of self-assertion and the conquest of a new social identity by women artists in the twentieth century and the early years of the new century. Portraits and self-portraits are sites 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; established roles of women’s representation, repetitive poses borrowed from traditional portraits give way to novel modes of expression.

From a model in the service of an artist, woman is transformed into an active and creative figure. Portraits taken by men, such as Man Ray, Edward Weston, Henry Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Mapplethorpe, to name but a few of the photographers presented in the exhibition, are juxtaposed with portraits and self-portraits of women artists and photographers, including Wanda Wulz, Inge Morath, Vivian Maier, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, and Marina Abramović. The relationship between subject and author of the photo contributes to the layering of meanings and enriches the possibilities of interpretation.

If intuition leads us to think that self-representations offer a more authentic image of the author than portraits taken by others, the works tell an often different story in which women demonstrate their ability to impose their personalities on the one on the other side of the lens; at the same time, photographers reveal an extraordinary ability to interpret the character of those in front of them. Leonor Fini, Marquise Luisa Casati, Meret Oppenheim use the lens of their male colleagues to express all their charm and seductive power. Florence Henri, Francesca Woodman and Nan Goldin, on the contrary, aim the camera lens at themselves to reveal to themselves and to the viewer concealed aspects of their personalities, staging, in some cases, their own weaknesses.

The sections of the exhibition

The exhibition is divided into sections, each of which accounts for a different form of representation of the roles women play in photographs. The section Artists and Models is dedicated to women who were creators and at the same time lent their faces and bodies for others’ works, as is the case with Meret Oppenheim, Tina Modotti, and Dora Maar. The section entitled The Body in Fragmentscollects self-portraits that return images of partial bodies, reflected in fractured mirrors, with the epidermis traversed by lines that interrupt their integrity, as if the difficulty of representing oneself were reflected in this. Portraits from the 1970s featuring Valie Export, Jo Spence and Renate Bertlmann ironically mimic the traditional image of woman as mother, housewife or sex object. One, None and a Hundred Thousand collects the self-portraits of female artists from Claude Cahun to Cindy Sherman who have used their bodies to interpret through masquerades different identities or stereotypes. Another section deals with the theme of stereotypes in the representation from cultural and sexual identities, another to those in the definition of canons of beauty while some photographs are dedicated to female artists next to their own creations as in the case of the very famous portrait of Louise Bourgeois executed by Robert Mapplethorpe.

The exhibition Io, lei , l’altra, produced and organized by ERPAC - Ente Regionale per il Patrimonio Culturale del Friuli Venezia Giulia, is part of a project initiated by the cultural institutions afferent to ERPAC dedicated to the theme of self-portraiture and portraiture in an art-historical perspective ranging from the Renaissance to the present day. Starting in May, the exhibition Riflessi, which will develop the theme of portraiture through loans from numerous European institutions, will take place at Palazzo Attems Petzenstein in Gorizia, while the Regional Gallery of Contemporary Art Luigi Spazzapan will host the exhibition Artist + Artist, which will bring together research interventions by artists linked to Friuli Venezia Giulia.

The exhibition is accompanied by the catalog Io, lei l’altra - Ritratti e autoritratti fotografici di donne artisti 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.

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Monday closed Special openings: Monday, April 18 and 25

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Me, her, the other: in Trieste the image of women in the last hundred years
Me, her, the other: in Trieste the image of women in the last hundred years

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