Z - On Pain and the Unspeakable
30 December 2021 -  05 January 2022

“Z” is the unspeakable, the heinous, the unbearable. “Z” is invisible. We reject its existence. Then, it happens to us or to someone close. Out of the blue, everything turns into its opposite.

Suffering from a serious disease takes you to recalibrate every parameter of your life. It forces you to subordinate the mind’s needs to the body’s. It has you face a new sense of time. The disease makes everything darker around you, but it casts a light on what is really important. Those who love you will stay, everyone else will go. Yet, despite all the love, a silent and deep pain is left there, along with the sensation of being completely alone.

Having cancer makes you a mythological creature. Something everybody heard of, but few actually saw it or dare to see it, not even touch. I still find it hard to believe that this actually happened to me. My mind tries to fight back the unimaginable, but the body does its duty and the concept becomes flesh, sore muscles, fatigue.

“Z” is an attempt to narrate through images an event that radically changed my life: the diagnosis of breast cancer. The project started out of the need to sublimate pain and to find a way to express my emotions. Later on, I realized I wanted to make the disease more visible, along with its metaphoric and tangible consequences. I chose to show a new body, which deserves to be acknowledged as valuable beyond the canons of feminine beauty. The bodies of those who are still alive, together with the many victims, are the tangible truth of the urgent need to find cures by truly supporting research and by acknowledging that prevention starts from a more ethical and sustainable lifestyle.

Giulia Laddago (b. 1990, Bari, Italy) is a contemporary photographer with an intimistic gaze who uses portrait, self-portrait and landscape as metaphorical tools to explore emotional states and look for her own identity. Her journeys can be either real or imaginary, as they originate from real stories, or tales and personal diaries, to reveal space-time scenes in search of connections. These connections, either of the self with space, with emotions, with the body, with streets or the others, take shape to disclose the essence of things along with a personal and needful idea of beauty. The moment in which subjects are captured by light represents a transformative act, where the ephemeral becomes important and asserts its presence and right to exist, freeing itself from any judgement. As a result, photography becomes an expressive language which, with fragility and strength at the same time, gives voice to an urge to be in this world and find her own dimension as human being, exploring the relationship between body and nature and looking for connections that need to be told.

She attended Istituto Italiano di Fotografia in Milan and worked as studio assistant and portrait and event photographer. She graduated in Modern Languages and Literatures in 2018 and is currently a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of Bari investigating the relationship between Virginia Woolf and photography. She is a member of “Fragile Artists”, an interdisciplinary collective of female dancers and photographers.

Artist Statement by Maria Teresa Salvati



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