cinematic photographs about women crying in classic film
Italian photographer Clara Giaminardi is using photography to re-appropriate women’s bodies — and tears.
For her previous personal work, Italian photographer Clara Giaminardi focused on women's bodies and their representation in the media. In one photo, a woman with dewy black skin arches her back and exalts her bare breast. In another, a woman with smooth cream-colored flesh hunches over and exposes her curved back and behind. The photos are romantic, emotional, and purposeful. "We reclaim objectification as a means of ultimate ownership of our bodies," Clara wrote in a manifesto on her site. But in her most recent work, Clara has shifted her focus from the representation of the female form to how women's emotions are depicted in art and the media. For The Reasons I Cry, Clara took up-close portraits of a blonde model — in pinned curls and Edwardian blouses — displaying a range of emotions inspired by women in Fassbinder, Kubrick, and Von Trier films. "The series goes from unsettlingly fake tears of joy all the way to raw, red angry tears that sting the skin," Clara explains. "For me, the most emotional image is the single tear; there is always so much beauty in a quiet moment." Here, Clara talks to i-D about art and feminist literature, sexism and misogyny in Italy, and what makes her cry.
Your site says that your vision of femininity has been informed by feminist literature. What are some of the writers or books that have most informed your perspective?
The authors I have been most inspired by in recent years are Elizabeth Grosz (in particular her 1994 book Volatile Bodies) and Rae Langton's writings. Grosz is a huge influence on my work, both in regards to her writings on objectification and those on the woman as body and emotionality.
Why is the female body and the objectification of it the focus of your personal work?
I come from a country where the mainstream media overwhelmingly depicts women as sexualized objects, catering to the male gaze. It is such a damaging phenomena, warping young girls' views of how women can and should be represented, and what their role in society can be. It sabotages aspirations, and the subtext to it is that any achievement is irrelevant compared to the adherence to a male-approved vision of beauty. I think things are slowly changing in wider society, thanks to a more global vision coming up through the Internet, but with every step forward there is at least a half step back. It's hard to change views that have been ingrained in the culture throughout decades (even centuries). Moving to London three years ago, I had a chance to step back and really view this through the lens of another culture. I think that's what inspired me initially to take on these subjects in my personal work — an idealistic desire to start a discussion about these issues back home. Change can only come from discussion, and it is so important for these ideas to trickle into mainstream society, instead of remaining within artist circles abroad.
Is your work often inspired by art?
My work is inspired primarily by performance art and contemporary dance. I adore the work of choreographers like Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Pina Bausch, as well as that of female artists like Ana Mendieta and Valie Export, who have made the politics of female bodies the subject of their work. I am also very aware of the internalized inspirations my work is subject to. My use of light and texture is probably the result of so many years of being surrounded by centuries of Italian art.
What is The Reasons I Cry about?
The Reasons I Cry is a personal project inspired by cinematic tears. There's a famous scene in Godard's Vivre Sa Vie in which Anna Karina sits in a dark theatre, watching a close-up of Dreyer's Joan of Arc, who has tears running down her face. A close-up of Karina shows us that she is quietly crying too. I have always been fascinated by films' capacity to move us to tears, and this tied in with a recent exploration I have been conducting of female emotionality. I am interested in how female emotion is depicted in art and media, and how it is generally viewed in society. Open and honest expressions of emotion are still such a taboo, and that is damaging to both women and men. In The Reasons I Cry, I look at the sanitized depictions of emotion we are subjected to through film and other media, and push and pull them both ways.
What are the reasons you cry?
I cry for so many things! I'm currently exploring these themes also in relation to myself, and have given myself a free pass on tears and emotion. Some of the reasons I cry are: anger, the ends of some films, Max Richter music, heartbreak, hormones, and happiness.
Photography Clara Giaminardi