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Strangely Familiar

“The series “Strangely Familiar“ stages a tale of Freudian Uncanny: the opposition of the German words heimlich and unheimlich (familiar; unfamiliar) giving life to an eerie state of conflict.

The premise of this project is loosely based on a real-life condition to which I was temporarily subject to: Bell’s Palsy - Paralysis of the nerve that supplies the facial muscles on one side of the face making the face appear to droop – and on that of a woman, Julia Pastrana, one of the most famous human curiosities of the 19th century due to her supernatural interference, a bearded face. For the first time in my life I was facing prejudice and realizing how strongly human dignity is linked to aesthetics and how this may impact one’s destiny.

Embodied in a bearded silicon mask, the resulting series - Strangely Familiar - becomes a metaphor for difference, also on a symbolic level: of social, psychic, anthropological and ethnic gender, perceptually and cognitively analyzed in light of intimately destabilizing sensations which are brought by society. I constantly resort to the symbolic charge of pink and blue colors, suggesting the feminine and the masculine with fluidity and postponing the formalization of new identity structures.

In the condition of co-presence and dependence on others, in the destiny both plural and individual, frailty becomes a precious asset in the relational context. I am beginning to think that if on one hand the physical-aesthetic defect heavily discriminates and isolates the person who is affected by it, on the other it stimulates in the same person a sensitivity to recognize many more invisible monstrosities in those who judge.

My world is that of staged photography, a world that visually transforms, by clues, a real event into an artificial set that, however, is potentially capable of arousing sensory emotions in the beholder. In the sequence of faces and situations I give voice, without a precise narration, to the stillness of a female figure who discovers in a mirror that the other is a stranger” – Guia Besana.

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