Between 1965 and 1971 Lisetta Carmi (b 1924 ) started to lens the transvestites community, gravitating around the first homosexual hood in her birthplace, Genoa, eventually forging with them strong relationships: producing a photography book from the 70’s (published in 1972 by Erba Voglio) highlighting the daily gestures of her subjects. It is the strong provocative nature of the theme, for those conservative years: representing the transvestites’ world is a way to protect them, and to tell us about their rights, that shouldn’t just exist for men or women, but human beings.
Antoine Levi gallery presents the first solo exhibition of the artist who describes people in their everyday cosmetics activities; through make up, dressing, hairstyling or fitting.
It doesn’t only show the excess through the eyeshadows, and the hair bleaching, but also all the furniture props with flowery or bright coloured wallpapers, hangings, and golden wooden frames; everything within a continuity of style with the bodies and their finery.
The pictorial approach to the theme is strong, with references to Ingres, the caravagesque light- contrasts, the research of the postures and bodily attitudes, which remind us the Manet approach towards the theme of embellishment (“the satin corset is probably the nude of our times?”) and “praise of make up”.
© Lisetta Carmi, Courtesy Martini & Ronchetti, Genova and Antoine Levi, Paris. Photographs: Aurélien Mole
What is documented doesn’t fall under sexuality but represents a variation around the pattern of “Venus in Front of the Mirror” and all its’ cosmetic paraphernalia.
“Below the mantle” deals with an erotical depiction of the body as a matter of underwear, a subtle stratification of cosmetic and clothing trends.
Lisetta Carmi’s photographs are without a doubt connected to this lode, however through a singular reconfiguration.
The makeup artifice concerns, in this series, the men-world: Where Rubens and Titian were covering the fleshes of their nymphs or the other Venus, with brushstrokes here, the artificial embellishment plays with the beards and gluteal hairs.
As Balzac states “There is a man beneath .. “
Exhibition until November 7th
Courtesy of Antoine Levi