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To Be and Not to Be. An Insight into Gaia Adducchio’s Existentialist’s Photography

Gaia Adducchio studied film directing at FAMU, the National Film School of Prague, in 2014. Her numerous prizes for the fictional and documentary approach granted her the opportunity to expand the realization of her fictional and documentary works. In 2020, we had the opportunity to know Adducchio’s work during our online exhibition “The Artist’s Story” and had the opportunity to further learn about her practice. Her exhibited work “Naked:#she”, quickly became one of the favourites of both the selector panel.

Gaia Adducchio
Rullino 63, 2016, Print on Baryta Paper

“Naked:#she” is an exploration of the finitude of human life, a sort of purge of the taboo of death that prevails in our everyday lives. With an almost oneiric approach to the presentation of the individuals, this series is exclusively protagonist by women, who wear animal-head masks that both hide their identity and highlight their strong presence. This presence, although veiling erotism, is presented in a series of noble poses, more like the posing of late 19th-century post-mortem and live-model photography than to any sort of pornographic imagery. The reclamation of presence and the spectator’s eye distills a will to live forever, captured in the immortal photographic practice, and yet, the images appear estranged, like documentary archival items documenting “what” and “who” simply no longer are. Life and death both seem a memory, cohabitating a common space yet retaining the essence of their contradiction. Are we experiencing a memory of a past that was once alive? Or are we presented with a mere illusion, perhaps, of something that we feel to no longer have, yet strikes us today?

“Naked:#she” is a series with an already extensive exhibition path, having been shown at Prague Photo 2017; during the collective exhibition “We Contemporary” in both Rome and Kiev, during the collective exhibition EOS at MPG Art Gallery in Vittoria, Sicily; at the 17th edition of CIPAE – China International Art Fair that takes place during the China International Photographic Art Festival in Zhengzhou – Henan – China; during the art exhibition “Secondo Natura” at Palazzo Spadaro in Sicily; at Grand Palais in Paris during Salon Comparisons, and having reached us finally in May 2021.

This project mirrors the essence of photographic practice, immortalizing that which no longer exists, and presenting (in the most essential term of the word) past realities, when not realizing (again, strictly speaking) that which never was. However consolidating an identity of its own, we shall not disconnect this project from the rest of Adducchio’s work. Double exposure on a single frame realized directly in the moment of the shutter click, emphasizing the present moment to the utmost detail, is also present in many other works. In “Ritratti di famiglia” (Family Portraits), as in “Naked:#she”, the artist portraits those in her intimate sphere. Protagonizing the scene also covering their faces with animal-head masks, everyone’s identity is estranged, as well as their reality. Thus, Adducchio’s photographs make their existence perennial, while at the same time forcing her to acknowledge that there will come a time where the presence of these loved ones, just like somehow already patent in the “Family Portraits”, will no longer take place.

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