Photoromans: Mythes & Clichés

Ermes-Ermes, Vienna 

Nov 20 – Jan 16, 2020 

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Pordenone, October 21, 2019

Dear Nicole,

I am back to visit my parents for a few days, before going to Turin where I am going to meet Ilaria.
I am writing to you from my teenage bedroom. It happens to many, I guess, that the room where you grew up slowly turns into a sort of memorial to whom you were: there’s a drawing Vincenzo made of me in high school, Yellow Submarine-style, with hair down to my shoulders; the ticket to Michael Jackson’s last Italian concert in San Siro in 1997 (I went with my older cousin Raffaella); a picture I took in Romagna of a stone stele with a skull carved on it, and stuck between the jaw and the cheekbone, a bird’s nest.
I wonder how it is for you, to look back at the work you did 40 years ago. Do you see yourself younger, maybe more naïve – or more ambitious? Do you remember your intentions, or do they blur with what you think of this body of work now? While I am making braids to a troll with long blue hair I found in a drawer, I wonder if it makes sense to bother about your intentions. Is that bad art critique? You know, someone would usually ask you who you studied with, whom you were close to as an artist, what you were reading, which movies and exhibitions you saw...
I keep going back though to the thought that the Italy you lived in when you were 30 years old or so is the same that I was born into, right here, where I am writing. From this room, your fotoromanzi remind me above all of the magazine Grand Hotel, which I used to find in some boxes in the garage, and which I would read right there, alone. I was actually not very interested in the fotoromanzi, and would immediately flip to the last few pages at the end, where there were all those silly ads of improbable products such as X-ray glasses to see underneath the clothes, do you remember those ads?
I read about your work, about how it comments on the passive role of women in society – often waiting, laying down, with the camera’s eye towering over you. I do not see rage though, maybe not even subversion, or parody; you seem to take fotoromanzi very seriously, and to respect them. Back then, you seemed to be so young and already so serene. And I am trying with my writing to get to the same lightness, the same joy. Are you still the same?

All my very best,


Courtesy of the artist and Ermes-Ermes
Photos by

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