Intimate photographs of women in their bedrooms around the world
With her new book, 'In Her Rooms', Italian photographer Maria Clara Macrì captures womanhood in the safest of spaces.
Photoography Maria Clara Macrì
Before you enter someone’s bedroom for the first time, there’s a kind of excitement that is hard to put into words. You imagine it a certain way, like a reflection of every little detail you’ve discovered about their personality unfolding right in front of you. “The first thing I always feel is the energy inside the room,” says Italian photographer Maria Clara Macrì, aka Mery. “Every home, every girl and every safe temple is different.” With her new book, In Her Rooms, Mery has captured this vast array of womanhood at home. In some rooms, chaos is kept in order, while others, doubling as studios, feel like a creative haven to experiment in.
From New York to London and Barcelona, the artist travelled extensively, pre-Covid, taking photos of women in their safe spaces. What started as a personal project in 2018 -- an attempt to let women reclaim their nakedness by untying the body from sexual objectification -- has evolved into a photo book with a fitting title. “Back then, I already knew it had to become a book without even seeing how the first pictures turned out,” she says, still visibly excited. “The idea actually came up on my flight back to Italy, when I was thinking about all the absurd, yet incredible experiences I made on my trips.”
But In Her Rooms is more than just a big adventure immortalised through image. These intimate portraits are given further context, given a voice. Over time, Mery hoarded paraphernalia connected to the project: pages from her travel diaries, voice recordings documenting the monologues and thoughts of some of the women she encountered. Locked-up in her little studio in Reggio Emilia, a small Italian town near Bologna, the artist started to scan her scrapbook. “What saved me during quarantine was remembering how free I felt in these moments, and what my girls in their rooms showed me,” she reminisces. So she kept herself busy with the project; writing and translating their thoughts as well as her own. The result is a personal book about the adventures of travelling solo, finding deeper connections, and the joy of capturing all of that with the help of her camera.
“Women tend to feel really free in my presence,” she says. “As if I have the power to create an energy where people can stay relaxed.” In fact, her subjects were so at ease that they stripped down to nothing in front of her lens, without the slightest feeling of discomfort. It’s a representation of how they see themselves instead of being sexualised by others. For Mery, a woman’s naked body can be a big piece of art. “When wearing clothes, you have a certain style, one which might change over time,” she explains. “Of course, fashion can reflect someone’s personality, but I wanted to capture the pure soul.” Flipping through the book’s pages, you certainly feel that.
Mery met most of the women by simply stopping them on their city’s streets, while others were a lucky find on Instagram. “They were all so free in their own ways,” says the artist about the women she connected with on her journey. Almost all of them were queer artists too, but she didn’t care about their profession, nor their sexuality. It was the energy Mery was interested in.
One of the women pictured is Emily, a painter based in New York City. “When I met Emily in her creative studio, I was overwhelmed by emotions,” Mery remembers. “I could feel all the suffering and the joy within her paintings.” For the Italian, it’s important to face everyone without judgement but with empathy, as you never know who’s fighting what battle.
In an age of heightened social anxiety, meeting strangers doesn’t always come easily, but Mery has a gift of turning random chit-chat into a deep conversation about womanhood, life and all of its bizarre coincidences. “One night, I was walking alone in LA and couldn’t find a cool place to eat, so I asked this boy with a guitar where to go,” she tells us. “He invited me to his home, where I actually found one of my subjects.”
For Mery, womanhood is a long journey towards understanding the truths about ourselves. It’s about supporting one another. “The envy and the constant comparison between women is a mental process that comes from patriarchy and from capitalism,” she emphasises. With her project, she hoped to make room for women to discover themselves in new ways, and ultimately to give the reader inspiration to do the same.
“All the women around me, all the ones I’ve met, they helped me, they opened my mind,” Mery recognises, having spending years working on the book. After all, as she muses across one of the pages: “I don’t have a sister, maybe that’s why I’m looking for her in every woman.”
‘In Her Rooms’ is now available to pre-order via Postcart.