mercoledì 20 maggio 2015

Educational photography by Caroline Gavazzi

Photography is not only art, communication or documentary; photography can be a teacher or a therapy, helping you overcoming problems or mental blocks.
Caroline Gavazzi, who’s 43 years old and was born in Monza (Italy), studied city planning in Paris, where she lived for few years. She moved to the UK where she started working as an independent photographer, after being assistant to Vogue artistic director.
Through her work she built a conversation with a group of children from a difficult neighbourhood in North-East London, at the De Beauvoir Primary School in Hackney. Here you find the interview she released at MIA FAIR, Milan. T.G.

Fear is behind a curtain

Tony Graffio in interview with Caroline Gavazzi

Tony Graffio: Caroline let's talk about you, who are you? What do you do? Where do you live?
Caroline Gavazzi: I live and work in London since 17 years. I started my career as photographer of interiors, portrait and still life for several British magazines, most of them from Condé Nast.
Then little by little, I turned myself to art photography, because it was the genre I was particularly interested to, also because in this way I felt more free to communicate my ideas in a better way.

T.G.: What is "Fear" about?

Caroline Gavazzi: This project was born one year ago in the UK. It was born together with a charity who introduced me to a school in Hackney, a difficult area of London, to work with a class of children aged between 9 and 10 years old.
I decided to work on the subject of fears, to teach children that photography can convey emotions. Photography is not only about landscapes, friends or food pictures, but through this form of expression you can also reason about something deeper.
With the teacher’s help, I asked children to talk about their fears. Then I photographed these fears, both in the classroom and outside in the school garden. It was necessary to find a way to represent their fears or phobias trough images.
I realised that these photographs where too direct and strong. They were about something very private concerning the personal sphere of the child. In my opinion it wasn’t fair showing everyone such personal fears.
That is why I decided to cover with a loth the photographs of each child’s fear, in a way to protect the child, but also to create an interaction with the public. The public shouldn’t stop to the appearance, but it should go beyond and find out the fear which is hidden behind each child.

Fear of dolls

I thought of using a cloth to be lifted up by visitors in order to discover children fears. The cloth used here is very important andsymbolic. It is made by a tissue that British children use to get comfort and protection, it is made by muslin which becomes in this way a kind of Linus’s security blanket”.
I was very proud of showing these fears to the children and the public. The exhibition started a conversation about fears and a lot of children understood that they have many fears in common.
Facing this fact has a liberating and therapeutic effect for the ones who learn to accept the existence of fears, and that we should learn to live with them in order to finally overcome them. Bring out our fear and share it is good for everyone.

T.G.: Are these photographs symbolic, or are these the real fears chosen by the children?

Caroline Gavazzi: These are the fears children told me about, that can be real phobias.

T.G.: Were you surprised by something in particular during this experience?

Caroline Gavazzi: First of all, I had a wonderful relationship with these children. A lot of them have family issues, their parents are very absent, they are never there, not even at night. These children are very much left to themselves. Maybe also for this reason, they were all enthusiastic about working with me, because they finally found someone who gave them attention, listening to their problems. This experience was for them the opportunity of sharing something very personal, that no one had considered before.

T.G.: Did the project take place inside their classroom only?

Caroline Gavazzi: The work ended with an exhibition at the school. Children were proud of showing what they were afraid of to their schoolmates and to their families: it was a very nice moment!

T. G.: Do you plan to bring this project somewhere else?

Caroline Gavazzi: Yes definitely. I am currently trying to find opportunities in Italy. Thanks to this charity I will work with four schools in Milan: a Chinese school, an Arab one, a Catholic one, and I can’t remember the last one.
Anyway, the idea to be understood is, that despite of where you come from,culture, religion and anything else may be different, but in the end we’re all the same and we often share the same fears.

Fear of shadows

T. G.: Was it difficult to submit this project in London?

Caroline Gavazzi: No, because I was helped by this charitable association called Pinksie, existing both in London and in Italy, aimed at helping children, often in difficult and disadvantaged neighbourhoods through culture and arts. They follow an approach suitable to children, who are provided with free workshops organized by artists. I have been selected among several artists. I chose the subject of fears, because it was the subject of a children book, who tells the story of a whale afraid of diving into the depths of the sea.

T.G.: Did you get the idea of using the curtain to cover the pictures together with the children?

Caroline Gavazzi: Yes, I got it with them. The first day we just photographed their fears, but soon after I realized that the work couldn’t be complete in this way. At first I thought about a sliding curtain, but then it would have remained open. My idea was on the contrary to keep it closed. So I draw this picture in a japonaiserie” style, linear and minimal, where the curtain fall back to its place after viewing the image behind it.
Fabio Castelli, MIA Fair founder and director, thinks that the action of lifting up the curtain beyond the photography, recalls the idea of opening the case of an old daguerreotype and unveil the image to the eyes of who’s watching in a particularly fascinating way.

Caroline Gavazzi against the fear of knives

A visitor was upset by discovering that a little girl was afraid by popping ballons.

Another visitor facing the fear of dolls.

Caroline Gavazzi is currenlty represented by the art gallery : Cecile Gallet Contemporary.

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