Essere umane

Essere umane, Forlì

On September 18, 2021, the exhibition “Being Human. Great female photographers tell the world”, where 30 female photographers will exhibit their works.

The appointment goes on until January 30, 2022, in Forlì (Cesena), at the Museo di San Domenico.

Walter Guadagnini took care of the idea and the realization in collaboration with Monica Fantini and Fabio Lazzari.

The artists

Here is the list of the 30 artists who will exhibit their photographs:

Berenice Abbott

Claudia Andujar

Diane Arbus

Eve Arnold

Letizia Battaglia

Margaret Bourke-White

Silvia Camporesi

Cao Fei

Lisetta Carmi

Carla Cerati

Cristina De Middel

Gisèle Freund

Shadi Ghadirian

Jitka Hanzlova

Nanna Heitmann

Graciela Iturbide

Dorothea Lange

Annie Leibovitz

Paola Mattioli

Susan Meiselas

Lee Miller

Lisette Model

Tina Modotti

Inge Morath

Zanele Muholi

Ruth Orkin


Dayanita Singh

Gerda Taro

Newsha Tavakolian

We can find artist Lee Miller in Hitler’s bathtub, Inge Morath’s masks and Dorothea Lange’s faces of farmers during the Great Depression .

Lee Miller in Hitler’s bathtub
The Great Depression, Dorothea Lange

The exhibition

This is a journey through images, 314 photos, in the evolution of photographic language worldwide. The female gaze, from the Thirties to the Twentieth Century, accompanies us through the main events of history, with war reports and changes in social customs, post-war reconstruction and gender issues, the emergence of the society of customs and observation of the role of women in non-Western countries.

This is an unprecedented exhibition in Italy. Photography becomes an instrument of investigation and reflection on the great themes that have crossed society in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The first section is dedicated to the ’30s and ’50s and ranges from the series made by the American Dorothea Lange during the American crisis of the ’30s for the FSA (Farm Security Administration), to those of Lee Miller, also American, taken in Hitler’s apartment at the end of the Second World War, from the “English” series by the German Giséle Freund to the photographs taken in Italy by the American Ruth Orkin (including the famous American Girl in Italy) in 1951, from the images of the “Reflections” series by the Austrian Lisette Model, which investigate the theme of American consumerism, to the photographs of the Mexican period by the Italian Tina Modotti, during which she met and photographed, among others, the artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

And then again, always in the first section, there will be three other American authors: Berenice Abbott, Man Ray’s assistant in the 1920s in Paris, Margareth Bourke-White, the first foreign photographer who was allowed to take photographs in the then Soviet Union and, finally, the series on the parades of African-American women in Harlem by the American Eve Arnold (these images convinced Henri Cartier-Bresson to call Arnold to Magnum, the first woman, together with Inge Morath, to be part of the prestigious Parisian photographic agency founded by Robert Capa).

Finally, the recent acquisition of 10 works by Gerda Taro, taken during the Spanish Civil War in the ’30s, is worthy of note.

In the second section, from the ’60s to the ’80s, there will be the “Mask series” born from the meeting between the Austrian Inge Morath and the great Romanian designer naturalized American Saul Steinberg at the beginning of the ’60s, the disturbing and often controversial images of singular characters by the Russian-born American Diane Arbus, the photographs denouncing the degrading conditions of the Carnival Strippers by the American Susan Meiselas, to the photographs taken among the Indians of the Yanomami Amazon by the Brazilian Claudia Andujar, protagonist of a recent solo exhibition at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, or those of the series dedicated in the 1970s and 1980s to the matriarchal community of Juchitan, in Mexico, by Graciela Iturbide, up to those taken by the Indian Dayanita Singh for over ten years with Mona Ahmed, establishing a relationship of profound friendship that shines through in the images pervaded by intimate and often poetic participation.

Very important is the space dedicated to some of the most authoritative exponents of Italian photography such as Carla Cerati, with images from “Cocktail World”, a series dedicated to the bourgeois reality of cocktail parties in Milan, Lisetta Carmi with the 1965 series dedicated to the community of transvestites who had occupied the former Jewish ghetto in Genoa, Paola Mattioli with the famous self-portraits of the ’70s, and Letizia Battaglia, with images dedicated to the girls of Palermo and the murders of the Mafia.

Finally, a special section will be dedicated to the portraits of thirteen prominent women from various sectors, from business to sports, from music to cinema, made by one of the most famous photographers in the world, Annie Leibovitz, for the iconic Pirelli Calendar 2016.

More articulated is the final section dedicated to the years between the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century.

Also in this case of some authors will be exhibited images belonging to individual projects, such as the portraits of the South African Zanele Muholi, protagonist of the Venice Biennale in 2019, or the images of the Iranian Newsha Tavakolian, a member of the Magnum agency, which portray the women-guerrillas of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), or the photos of the series “Baba Yaga” by the Russian Nanna Heitmann dedicated to the inhabitants of Yanisei, the great Siberian river bordering the taiga or those of the Czech Jitka Hanzlova with the series “Female”, a series of female portraits taken between Europe and the United States, up to the images dedicated to the difficult conditions of Iranian women by Shadi Ghadirian and those of Letizia Battaglia’s daughter, Shobha.

The section will conclude with an evocative installation of images from the “Afronauts” series by the Spanish artist Cristina De Middel, recently nominated associate member of Magnum Photos, and two large-scale images by the Chinese artist Cao Fei dedicated, like much of her work, to the daily reality of her country.

Finally, this last section will host the presence of Silvia Camporesi from Forli, with a work entitled “Domestica,” an installation of 30 photographs taken during the recent lockdown.

What do you think about it? Will you visit it?

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