The new digital project “A Feminine Lexicon” by Arts Curating students Pia Diamandis and Elena Tortelli opened in May at museo.ferragamo.com.
Their project took inspiration from Museo Salvatore Ferragamo’s “Women in Balance”, an exhibition curated by Stefania Ricci and Elvira Valleri that celebrates the history of Italian women during the economic boom and the rapid changes in their identities. “A Feminine Lexicon” continues this conversation into what is considered feminine today through the works of eleven international contemporary artists and their testimonies.
In the digital exhibition, through audio recordings, all the artists describe their works and how they relate to a larger feminine lexicon in their own words. An excerpt of these reflections is gathered here for I’M Firenze Digest readers as a way to help them dive deeper into the exhibition.
By Pia Diamandis & Elena Tortelli. Cover image: Haruka Sakaguchi & Griselda San Martin, Anna Weng, Typecast Role: China Doll; Ideal Role: Detective, 2018, digital photography. Courtesy of the artists
“A Feminine Lexicon” artists include New York City-based photographers Haruka Sakaguchi (b. 1990, Osaka, Japan) and Griselda San Martin (b. 1978, Barcelona, Spain).
In “A Feminine Lexicon”, they showcase their series Typecast, photographs of Hollywood actresses, showing them in the most typical roles they have been asked to play and in the ideal roles they would like to play. The resulting sequence of four images recalls the practice of attaching a series of head-shots in different situations and roles to an actor’s resumé to show their acting experience. This underscores the need to affirm one’s identity, in a few short lines, and with a limited number of pictures, in the market of personalities that is Hollywood.
Haruka Sakaguchi & Griselda San Martin’s photographs are featured in the Representations section of the exhibition “A Feminine Lexicon”, underlining how retelling and representing are ways of caring and, at the same time, of defining one’s identity.
The Representations section features works by Stacey Gillian Abe, Haruka Sakaguchi & Griselda San Martin, and Reba Maybury.
PD, ET: How would you best describe Typecast? Where did the idea to make it come from?
GSM: Typecast is a satirical portrait series addressing typecasting practices in the entertainment industry.
Lack of diversity is amongst one of the most deep-rooted – and oldest – problems in the film industry. While ethnic minorities constitute nearly half of the US population, only 3 out of 10 lead actors in film are people of color and only 1.5 out of 10 film directors are female.
Though Typecast deals specifically within the entertainment industry, our goal is that it stimulates dialogue on implicit racism and how media representation directly correlates with one’s identity. Representation matters; it’s hard to overstate the importance of seeing someone who looks like you portrayed as a three-dimensional character with agency and dignity. Our project illustrates the plausibility of a more equitable future – both on-screen and in real life.
PD, ET: In your opinion, how has the representation of feminine identities evolved today? Do you think that visual art can change how we can represent, narrate, and ultimately see the others?
HS: Fortunately, the representation of feminine identities is diversifying thanks to the overall decentralization of the entertainment industry from traditional Hollywood studio productions to the emergence of competitive streaming services. We have evolved from seeing a singular archetype of womanhood as determined by a handful of powerful and usually male Hollywood studio executives to a much broader range of feminine identities born out of a multitude of younger, more innovative and more market-savvy writing rooms.
While we believe that visual art is an effective tool to define and redefine selfhood, we also believe that the art world can have a very limited audience. By infusing humor and satire into our work, we hope to reach a broader audience and humorize – not vilify – ethnic and cultural stereotyping as an outdated and obsolete practice.
A Feminine Lexicon is an online exhibition curated by Pia Diamandis and Elena Tortelli, students in Arts Curating at Istituto Marangoni Firenze for Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, available at museo.ferragamo.com.
Haruka Sakaguchi & Griselda San Martin are documentary photographers. They live and work in New York City, USA.
Pia Diamandis and Elena Tortelli are undergraduate students of Arts Curating at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.