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The Other Gaze

October 23, 2018

Donata Pizzi collects snapshots of life. “[Photography] has been my obsession always, I started when I was very young,” Pizzi said, reflecting on the important role photography has played in her life. Pizzi’s most recent collection displays different photographs taken by Italian women over the past 65 years.


As Pizzi engages the crowd in a lively discussion about her collection, photographs flash behind her on a projector. A woman is seen doing laundry while simultaneously tending to five children, depicting the difficulty of daily life for a woman in the Ukraine. Two identical elderly women sit side by side in rocking chairs, leaving the viewer wondering who they are and what their story is. Dozens of transvestites pose provocatively in their underwear, mocking the oversexualization of women while showing off their confident attitudes.


The pictures completely transform the atmosphere in the room, creating a sense of deep appreciation and admiration for these one of a kind photos. It is evident how much energy and life went into each picture, showing hundreds of different walks of life from across the world.


While the actual collection is astounding, Pizzi’s deep thought process behind selecting each photo is even more intriguing. Pizzi understands the plight of female photographers and their desire to be recognized, so Pizzi was determined to collect photographs that uniquely represent the feminine perspective. In this way, most of the photos stray from the male gaze through which women are commonly sexualized. Instead, the photos portray the true lifestyle of women.


“The main difference between male and female photographers is that men take photos to show, while women take photos to find out,” Pizzi said. This collection helps bring women photographers to the forefront and to elevate their work, stories, and perspectives, helping them gain attention.


Pizzi only has one word to describe these women photographers: daring. She recognizes that photography is not the most popular medium of art in Italy, especially because Italy does not have a National Portrait Gallery. Also, famous photographers in Italy are primarily male. But these women continued to persevere, traveling the world to walk beside strangers in hopes of understanding and sharing their way of life. The women featured in Pizzi’s collection have made history and defied all expectations.


Between 1965 and 2015, there were monumental changes in both Italian culture and the Women’s Rights movement. Pizzi shows how photography is an important tool, not only to capture shifts in culture, but also to capture the tiny moments within these shifts. The collection was displayed at the Triennale in Milan, and had a much bigger impact than Pizzi ever would have expected. In just the first two months of the exhibit, the collection attracted about 25,000 visitors.


While Pizzi isn’t sure what her next project will be, she knows that it will definitely be another female centric collection. After seeing the positive reactions to the empowerment of women, she wants to continue evoking a similar feeling with her future work.




About the Author


Samantha is currently the writing intern for La Pietra Dialogues. The New Jersey native is majoring in the Liberal Studies Core Program, but hopes to also further pursue studies in Political Science and Media Studies. Samantha enjoys exploring the streets of Florence and is looking forward to traveling through Europe. 


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