“I’ve always had a great interest for human beings combined with the passion for everything that is beauty.”
Text Francesca Marani
FM In the last few years diversity and integration have become key words of the fashion system. We witnessed the fall of some barriers that seemed impossible to break down, just think about Tyler Mitchell shooting the Cover for Vogue US, and the exponential increasing attention towards issues such as racism, body positivity and gender fluidity. Do you believe that activism has become a momentary pro-business trend or are we facing an ethical revolution that will create a precedent from which there will be no coming back?
AG Today activism is probably a trend but there has been a seismic shift and even if in the future the attention may not be as high as in these years, it would have still been an important jump for which there will be no possible turning back. It’s a movement that started off small, from the net, from social media, which traditional media and brands were forced to follow, realising how, to survive, it’s fundamental to have a strong reason why and to prove to be sensitive towards certain types of issues. That this may also be about opportunism, it doesn’t matter in my opinion; crucial is that changes happen and that they will increase people’s wellbeing and partly that’s exactly what’s happening. Until a few years ago people with disabilities hardly saw themselves represented in a realistic way, without appearing either as heroes or neglected, and they didn’t have the possibility to choose clothes made by designers. Unlike now, there were no relatable models in the popular culture. The same could be said about women of colour: before the iconic 2008 “Black Issue” of Vogue Italia, the presence of black models in fashion shows was minimal. Luckily there’s no going back. What worries me is the dichotomy between the vision of the world as presented to us by fashion, art and occasionally by social media – a universe in which diversity is respected and enhanced – and the real world, where nationalism, populism and violent forms of racism are the rule. For me, this is the actual challenge: questioning ourselves, trying to understand what is really going on, why is there such tremendous inequality between the achievements in terms of thought and the daily events. I wasn’t expecting Trump to win, the Brexit to be made concrete, the Lega to triumph here…the problem is what people vote, why different is seen as menacing.
FM Since its first edition the Photo Vogue Festival focuses on the political value of fashion photography. This year’s theme is “A Glitch in the System, Deconstracting Stereotypes”. What kind of enquiry do you want to carry out?
AG Last year one the major exhibitions of the festival, “Embracing Diversity”, was dedicated to the theme of the enhancement of diversity in all its forms but the time was not quite ripe for a further step, which is dealing not only with the diversity of the subject depicted in photo but also with who tells the story. I had some sort of epiphany when talking to Giles Duley, a photo reporter left mutilated by a mine in Afghanistan, and before that when meeting Patricia Lay-Dorsey, an artist suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis that created a photography book, “Falling into Place”, in which she portrays herself, offering herself and her experience to the world, without ever falling in easy clichés, pieties or heroism. Knowing her, I started to think it should have been dutiful to also pay attention to the author’s story, an important but often overlooked aspect, because it is through this type of further analysis that it is possible to detect potential preconceptions, to understand reasons and degrees of awareness. All the stories can be valid but their validity also depends on the contest in which who’s creating them operates. Today more than ever there are matters of culture colonisation which are extremely urgent and important to detect.
FM For a long time now you’ve been committed to make sure prejudices and taboos on diversity, and in particular on disability, are dismantled. What got you interested in and what are your goals?
AG I majored in political economics because I thought I would work for the U.N. I’ve always had a great interest for human beings combined with the passion for everything that is beauty. For me, ethics and aesthetics can coexist, and actually they should! Beautiful it’s not just what’s glossy and tragedies don’t have to be necessarily told in a tragic way. With my work, I hope to help change this limited and hypocritical vision and expand the perspective on the possibilities of narration at our disposal. As much as possible, I try in my small way to help others and make things a little better.