Simona Ghizzoni and her "Isola"

"We have lived our lives under the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We were wrong. We must change our lives so that it is possible to live under the opposite assumption, what is good for the world will be good for us. And this requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it". Wendell Berry

Simona Ghizzoni's art has a great aesthetic impact, each photographic painting enchants and welcomes the eye. Photography is a necessity for her, the expressive means that made her free, after the imprisonment of eating disorders experienced as a girl

At the same time, however, it is a complex, excavated, deep, stratified, intimate and universal work, which speaks to the eye and the emotions of the beholder. Simona Ghizzoni's aesthetics are the result of study, research, each photo a small mis en scène because every object, even the most common, has the right to her space and dignity, to her stage. In this sense, her language is pictorial, Caravaggesque in the light and Flemish in the composition and for the attention to detail. The light is always and only natural.

(Currently the artist uses a Leica machine of which she is testimonial for Leica Akademie.)

The day they declared the first lockdown in Italy was her birthday and she and her family, partner, son and cat Lulù, left Rome to move to the Emilian Apennines, in the house that belonged to her maternal grandparents.

And it is there, in 2020, that the Isola series is born.

“Life in the mountains is not comfortable, it is very different from life before, but it has allowed us to have around the most precious asset for me: space, nature, freedom of movement.
We started tidying up the house and started cultivating part of my grandparents' land again, getting used to living on little.
It's been difficult months, physically and emotionally, clinging like castaways only to that island that is our family." (Simona Ghizzoni)

After the experience in the Apennines, the family began a pilgrimage in search of a place of their own.
From the slopes of Etna, with the symbolic strength that the volcano brings with it, to life in common with other families, the search for space of heart and soul arrives in the woods and water of the Nazzano Tevere-Farfa nature reserve.

Foto Simona Ghizzoni, Isola... read the rest of the article»

Copyright © Simona Ghizzoni - Courtesy MLB Maria Livia Brunelli and the artist

Nature becomes the predominant setting of Isola, together with moments inspired by the intimacy of family life, by the relationship with the partner and the son who is now 4 years old. The forest has always possessed a mysterious charm that has inspired so much fairy-tale and fantastic literature and tradition, and this almost magical aura emerges in Ghizzoni's shots that she first observes and then tries to capture the sensations experienced. The water, with the symbolic content also of motherhood and fertility, becomes the ideal scenario for some of her self-portraits.

“Self-portraits have been part of my artistic practice since my early works, but for the first time here I decide to expose myself in a daily story, even in moments when others would have lowered the camera. I discovered a beauty of life unlike any I had known before, a truth in placing myself in front of the camera wide open, fragile, human." (Simona Ghizzoni)

Foto di Simona Ghizzoni, Isola

Copyright © Simona Ghizzoni - Courtesy MLB Maria Livia Brunelli and the artist

The river is three of her major sources of inspiration for her, sometimes a symbol of return to the mother's womb, sometimes a welcoming friend of small lives, sometimes a dreamlike space, sometimes simply a space to look at.
Investigating man's relationship with nature, the natural environment that surrounds him, but also the animality that is part of each of us are themes dear to Simona Ghizzoni.

The isolation first imposed by the lock-down of the first covid epidemic wave, and then enjoyed and sought after, lead Simona to look more attentively at the objects that are part of everyday life. Thus he also adds to his subjects still lifes or, better, silent natures, mis en scène of daily actions, in which, however, there are elements of connection with real life, from the games of the son, to the animals that casually come into contact with her and for whom to express gratitude.
Her art therefore becomes a daily story that blends a language of intimate documentation, almost a diary, with staged photography.

Foto di Simona Ghizzoni, Isola

Copyright © Simona Ghizzoni - Courtesy MLB Maria Livia Brunelli and the artist

Her pictorial style describes everyday life and speaks of small moments so as to give these moments dignity, eternity and beauty.

“The figures emerge from a deep black, cut by rare rays of light. It is a new world that can be glimpsed through the cracks. The human presence is the trace of a passage, a footprint, a trail of heat and humidity, a breath, a slag. As we leave traces of ourselves everywhere, deeper and deeper traces of our passage, I am increasingly obsessed with the desire to erase mine." (Simona Ghizzoni)

Now living in the countryside, the sun, previously hidden or not considered in the urban space, enters his daily life and his works with strength and joy, becoming a workmate. Light, always natural, becomes a fundamental element of his art, a thread to follow that always leads to life.

Foto Simona Ghizzoni, Isola

Copyright © Simona Ghizzoni - Courtesy MLB Maria Livia Brunelli and the artist

Isola is in fact an autobiographical story that arises from the urgency to "put order" between often conflicting emotions. It touches primary emotions such as the relationship with one's maternal side, the search for one's roots and the sense of being a mother.
It is from the geographical space, the house of the maternal grandparents, that this project was born and that space becomes the trade union between the inside and the outside in a visceral relationship with nature, water and the sun.

“Isola talks about the relationship with my family of origin, through the recovery of a relationship with nature, and with my new family, especially with my son, in these extraordinary circumstances in which I found myself raising him.” (Simona Ghizzoni)

The desire for change does not arise only from the emergency, but also from the concern for the sustainability of a respectful lifestyle thinking about possible alternative paths such as living in smaller communities, consuming less and learning to produce something ourselves, essential for us, unique beings clinging to our island, but connected and united with other us in other islands.

Until 11 February 2023, it is possible to admire some shots of the Isola series thanks to the exhibition at the MLB Maria Livia Brunelli gallery in Ferrara.

Simona Ghizzoni (Reggio Emilia, 1977) is a photographer, visual artist and activist for women's rights, this year President of the European jury of the World Press Photo, which she has won twice. In 2022 she was also awarded the BNL BNP Paribas Prize of the XI Edition of the international photography fair Mia Art Fair 2022, thanks to a triptych of photos part of the "Isola" project.

For further information on Simona Ghizzoni:

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