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Lisetta Carmi

I travestiti, Sissi et une amie, 1965 - 1967

c-print (2017) on hahnemühle paper
40 x 30cm
About Lisetta Carmi
Lisetta Carmi was a photographer and photojournalist who created deeply insightful portraits of marginalised communities and crafted surrealist tableaux of cityscapes. Born in 1924 into a Jewish family in Genoa, Carmi experienced extreme prejudice as a child, being forced to leave school at the age of 14 due to the introduction of racial laws brought about by the Italian Fascist regime. In the early 1960s, by chance Carmi was leant a camera by a friend and immediately fell in love with photography. Peers commended her innate talent for capturing light and extracting the theatrical elements of everyday environments. Early studies of the streets of Genoa echoed the playful, inquisitive eye of photographers such as Dora Maar, Eugène Atget or Cartier-Bresson. Carmi is best known for her photobook, I Travestiti (Transvestives), which documents the interior and exterior lives of transgender women in Genoa who Carmi photographed between 1965-1970. Through embedding herself within this community, the series captures intimate portraits and free flowing, dynamic scenes of these women laughing, dancing, or posing together. Through images that appreciate the women in the same way we would classical figures in Rococo or Renaissance paintings, an immense respect is given to her subjects. Contemporary parallels of Carmi’s would be photographers such as Letizia Battaglia, Nan Goldin, or Diane Arbus.