Interview: Anna di Gaeta
Luca Curci talks with Anna di Gaeta, winner of the Honorable Mention of the ITSLIQUID CONTEST 10TH EDITION 2021.
I’m an Italian photographer based in Rome where I was born. I have a Bachelor of Laws – LLB in International Legal Studies, but my true passions have always been languages and photography. So, years later I started studying foreign languages achieving a Bachelor of Interpreting and Translation in Spanish, French, English, and German, becoming a professional interpreter and translator which brought me to travel a lot enhancing my passion for discovering new countries and cultures. At the same time, I restarted playing with my camera loving to reveal places and people with new eyes and perspectives. I continued improving my photography as an autodidactic. Ever since I was a child, photography has been a magic way to capture the world the way I see it or sometimes how I imagine it could be. I fell in love with street photography after seeing Doisneau’s “Le baisir de l’hôtel de ville” and thanks to a short interview he gave in which I found exactly what my concept of street photography was. He said, “The world that I was trying to show was a world where I would have felt at peace, where people would be pleasant, and where I would find the kindness, I wished to receive. My photographs were proof that such a world could exist.”
Reality doesn’t always have to be cruel! Sometimes it seems that people associate life only with negative things. I don’t think immortalizing dramatic and painful events should be considered more important than capturing the light-hearted colorful side of life on film. A side is seen through people’s small everyday gestures that often go unnoticed such as a simple smile, or things like an elderly couple crossing the street hand in hand, a young couple embracing each other, or children blowing bubbles in a city square on a sunny day. To me, this is really magic, and I’m grateful to God that I’m still able to wonder at these simple but precious things. It was also thanks to my dad who gave me my first camera for my 10th birthday that I embarked on this adventure of photography in a world between reality and imagination even if professionally I began just 3 years ago with my personal project BALLET MEETS STREET. Two sides of just one heart. I also studied ballet as a child, then following an injury I had to give it up, but never really abandoned it. Somehow, I felt the need to preserve its poetry within me and I found the way to express what I felt in my heart thanks to street photography. And so, my project was born.
LUCA CURCI – What is art for you?
ANNA DI GAETA – I think Art is the imagination of the heart. If you break down the word “HEART”, you find “HE- ART”. I think it’s an interesting combination… When you look at an artwork first thing you feel are emotions (positive or negative) that the artwork transmits to you because it has been realized with passions, of course with technique too that is also very important, but technique alone doesn’t bring life to an art piece. In my opinion, this is what makes the difference between an artwork and just simply a work that has no soul.
LC – What are you currently working on?
ADG – I am currently working on two personal projects called “Ballet Meets Street. Two sides of just one heart”, and “Cities on pointes”. “Ballet Meets Street. Two sides of just one heart” is my main project about my dance photography which is mainly focused on telling a love story between ballet and street art. With this project, I would like to contribute to breaking the preconceptions related to both these forms of art, Street art, and Ballet. People often consider street art an act of vandalism (and often confuse it with the pure vandalism of writers who not only disfigure walls but also posters and murals …) when in my opinion it is the art of our century! The evolution of the art of expressing emotions, current social, environmental, political issues, in images. Street art, an open-air museum and therefore a pure art form that everyone can enjoy. An art whose canvas is the street itself; an art that wants to communicate not only its artistic language but also its own moral code through respect for streets and their buildings, bringing joy to suburbs which are sometimes sadly left behind; an art whose aim is to familiarise or let people consider current issues with a different artistic language.
On the other hand, many see Ballet as a formal art form, light-years from their everyday life, an elitist form of art to be performed only on theatre stages, so they are unable to relate to it. Well, that’s why I took ballet onto the street, to bring it closer to people and show that dance, like any self-respecting art form, is made of soul and passion expressed through its harmony and grace and which, as well as building dialogue between these two very different art forms, I try to capture in my shots. BALLET MEETS STREET starts with a first volume dedicated to Rome (currently in the editing phase) and will continue with other volumes, each dedicated to a European city until I hope someday to have the chance to take my work overseas. I’m now working on the second volume dedicated to Madrid, a city I’m visiting regularly to collect material for this phase of my project. BALLET MEETS STREET is a love story between two worlds so antithetical and seemingly distant, but which merged together give life to a unique magical Wonderland. My magic Wonderland.
The second project, “Cities on pointes”, is my way to see cities around the world from a different point of view, on tiptoe. A different perspective to discover and to show secret corners of my own “Eternal City, Rome” as well as of other beautiful cities I am going to visit.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
ADG – Transmitting my emotions to the audience. Trying to bring alive my photos to not reduce them to mere photographs. When people text me saying that my shots are “pure poetry”, that they get emotional by seeing my pictures, when. they keep going on encouraging me to go on with my project because they look forward to dreaming with my photos until I post a new photo series on Instagram for example, then I know I achieved my purpose. The same happens sometimes, when people see me while working on the street, they smile, they get immediately interested and happy seeing the ballerina performing her beautiful pose or dancing on the “street stage”, and that translates into an exchange of pure positive reciprocal energy. So, I would say, that the challenging part about my artworks is the art of making people happy because happiness is the most beautiful side of life, the one that gives you the strength and courage to deal sometimes with sad times or events of everyday life, or that inspires you to take a new path or challenge in your life, but it is also the one that sometimes feels to be underestimated, that is taken for granted. We all should be aware of the power and positive energy and vibes love and happiness can give to us all, that let live more peacefully with each other and inspires us to be better human beings for this wonderful world. This is the most challenging part about my artworks as well as living my life in general.
LC – What is your creative process like?
ADG – First, bringing to reality my imagination, realizing the shot I have in mind that was born in my heart in terms of emotions and feelings, then, starting to work on my mood board doing research to find the right murals or street corner, the right outfit and dancer that brings to reality the shot that is already done in my mind, lastly looking in the camera with the eyes of my heart, not with the ones of the photographer. An example of my creative process is the Photo Series “KILL BILL” that I dedicated to the famous movie series KILL BILL of Quentin Tarantino, with Uma Thurman. I found the right outfit immediately! While to find the right mural I had to wait 2 years, in all that time my heart told me to wait and be patient, I had the feeling that I would have finally found the right artwork, I was so sure since the very beginning when the shot had been visualized in my mind. Suddenly, while I was doing my daily scouting on Instagram (I do scouting on Instagram when I don’t have the chance to find it outside), I found that one of my favorite artists did his first mural (before he did only posters). When I saw it, I had no doubt I found it! I immediately went to shoot it after just one week the mural was completed. The shot you see about KILL BILL also in this interview was the first one I took and the final one. I didn’t have to take other shots it was exactly the one I had in mind since the very beginning.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
ADG – Yes, my artworks are actually focused mainly on dance photography, even if I am thinking to deal in the future also with another theme, but at the moment I prefer not to specify it because it is still only an idea in an embryonic phase.