Yvonne De Rosa is an Italian photographer who tells stories that have been hidden or forgotten. De Rosa’s series ‘Negativo 1930′ is showing at The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation as part of the Hey! What’s Going On? exhibition at this year’s Rencontres d’ Arles Festival as part of the 50th Anniversary Edition until 22 September 2019.
Negativo 1930 is based on the true story of Nina, a woman who falls in love with a fisherman called Peppino. When she tells Peppino she is pregnant, he strangles her and throws her body into the sea. Nina’s pregnancy discredits the family and she is not spoken of until Nina’s niece, Anna, and several villagers start having visions of a bald, naked woman.
Yvonne De Rosa visited the village and met Anna, who showed her the locations of critical events and sightings. Negativo 1930 explores this sad story to investigate themes of grief, guilt, femicide and fiction to bring this hidden story to light through the photographic negative.
You can visit the exhibition virtually through this link.
Here, De Rosa, our WIA featured artist, discusses her creative life and influences.
WIA: What are you doing today?
Yvonne De Rosa: I am working and reading and taking some time to research my new subject.
WIA: Tell us about your creative process.
YDR: I love to rescue memories – I like to tell stories that would otherwise be forgotten. I do a lot of research about my chosen subject. I start to read a lot about it and then I will start to talk about it with my friends and others who share my passions. Photography is the last step in my process.
WIA: Describe where you do most of your creative work.
YDR: Everywhere. I do most of my work in my studio but also whilst walking, travelling, speaking with people or visiting a museum or gallery – you can never stop the creative process.
WIA: What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
YDR: All new projects are exciting and always a challenge. I take all of them very seriously – trying to do my best. However some projects are closer to my heart like Crazy God. This was a project that I started after working for several years in a mental asylum in Italy. This was before new laws were issued that closed these kinds of institutions permanently in an attempt to rebuild the medical approach to mental health. I am also really fascinated by my newest subject – a series entitled Negativo 1930. From the Greek Myths to Freud, it is incredible to see what we inherit from our families… traumas, guilts, memories, untold but passed through generations.
WIA: What made you decide to become an artist?
YDR: I do not think you just decide to become an artist one day. It comes from a desire to be seen and to use your visual language to talk to people. Other people who have the same sensibility will understand.
WIA: What are you currently working on?
YDR: As I briefly discussed in my previous answer, I am working on the second chapter of a series of stories that explore the intimacy of human relationships, families and memories and how they change the course of our lives.
WIA: Do you listen to music while you work, and if so, what’s your soundtrack?
YDR: Sometimes I need to be in silence, sometimes I love to listen to music. Today I am listening to Music for Weather Elements by Ezio Bosso.
WIA: What are the key themes in your work?
YDR: Memories and the fascination with what my life could be if I were to put myself in the stories that I am telling. I used to say that photography is my tool to explore and study what fascinates me most: humans.
WIA: What would you like people to notice in your work?
YDR: The fact that I care about my subjects and that I am grateful to every person that has spent time with me.
WIA: What attracts you to the mediums you work in?
YDR: For me, looking at a photograph is the same thing as looking at the stars. Both phenomena are connected with light and in both cases you are looking at something that no longer exists. What attracted me to this medium is that you can repeat this magic over and over again – when capturing an event the light is impressed from the camera and there it is again – we observe light. A light from the past can remain visible as long as the image is preserved.
WIA: What equipment could you not do without?
YDR: I like to use any kind of equipment. I use several different cameras from polaroid to digital SLR, it really depends on which one I feel is more suitable for the environment I am working in. I would say maybe my phone because I can have an exposure metre in one hand and google in the other if I need a quick translation, but really nothing is essential except curiosity. That is the engine of everything.
WIA: Who or what inspires you?
YDR: Mainly poets and musicians, writers … and of course many photographers!
WIA: How does gender affect your work?
YDR: I understand due to the nature of this publication that this is a question that must be asked however I feel that as a general question a man wouldn’t be asked this… I guess that reflects upon the society in which we live. However, I can add that throughout my experience all my best collaborations and work came about thanks to women. But that may just be a coincidence.
WIA: What’s your favourite gallery, or place to see or experience art?
YDR: Without a doubt the streets of Napoli! But if I had to name one gallery if would be the gallery that I am currently working with – L A Noble Gallery. The director, Laura Noble, is one of the most passionate and hard working people that I know in the photography world.
WIA: If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why?
YDR: Well if I can dream, I love Magritte, I would love to own the painting This is Not a Pipe. I first saw it when I was very young and the concept of it mesmerised me for days. I think it is a concept that should always be kept in mind when looking at pictures too.
WIA: If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be, and why?.
YDR: I would have loved to have worked with a Neapolitan actor and poet named Antonio De Curtis, his artist name was Totò. He was a deep thinker but possessed the ability to make people laugh – he described my roots very well. I really am Neapolitan.
WIA: Is there an artist, movement or collective you’d like to see re-evaluated, or a contemporary artist who is underrated?
YDR: There are many! Too many! I can’t answer that because I’m afraid I will say some names but miss others. The artists that gain recognition are the artists who market themselves well. I would just like to see more funds spent in culture in my country. We need culture, history and memory to combat racism and discrimination.
WIA: What’s your favourite colour
Yvonne De Rosa is represented by L A Noble Gallery.
L A Noble Gallery Website: L A Noble Gallery
All images: ©Yvonne De Rosa courtesy of L A Noble Gallery
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