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FEMINAL project: The Seal Photograph - Limited Edition of 1

Mario Guarino

Photography, Black & White on Paper

Size: 24.8 W x 29.9 H x 2 D in

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About The Artwork

Feminal is an acronym of “Feminine” and “Animal”. This project, started in early 2007, aims at exploring the close relations between these two elements and to define identity beyond the comfort zone of shared stereotypes. In these circumstances the lens observes and speculates on identity through a radically opposed perspective to the one commonly adopted by traditional media in the fashion and advertising culture. Spoiling personality of all the accessories provided to implement and expand it, Mario Guarino presents the human being as very naturally animal, made of shape, flesh and instinct. Casually selected among a diverse group of applicants, the women who have been photographed in this project were asked individually to pick the one mask they felt mostly represented their inner nature. With no influence or staging of the shoot even poses were kept as spontaneous as possible by simply asking them to show their bodies in different shapes or simply by standing in front of the camera if they preferred to do so. The results are a collection of portraits of incredible impact in which personality and character emerge by a unique symbiotic communion between the persona and the animal side by each adopted. The project has taken place in two different sessions during 2007 and 2008 in studio, involving the participation of 30 female applicants. The subjects have applied through Internet ads and by word of mouth. No criteria were applied in the selection of the models and all the applicants have been photographed, although the final choice of portraits to be exhibited has been reduced to 20 for practical reasons. The choice of a studio environment as opposed to any particular location is justified by the need of concentrating the attention of the viewer completely on the subject without any possibility of distraction, not allocating them in any particular narrative context. The women, with their bodies and masked face tell a story beyond any particular reference to their background or natural environment. None of the photographs have been digitally manipulated in line with the photographer’s idea of presenting a hyper-realistic perspective of his subjects. The lighting technique used to photograph the subjects is a mix of flash and continuous light that has specifically been designed to have an harsh impact on the surfaces highlighting in a very uncompromising way defects and irregularities of the bodies and skin tones. Even the choice of film used, Kodak 100tmax, a high contrast black and white film normally used for documentary work finds its justification in the concept of presenting a case rather than an aesthetic exercise. The extreme definition of the skin tones and details however finds a balance in the choice of paper adopted in the process of printing. In fact, Hahnemuhle 308gsm 100% cotton rag is a specific type of cotton based photographic paper that absorbs partially the highlights offering a more balanced pastel-like representation of the photographs that in some ways adds a narrative sense to the overall collection. Ultimately, the choice of using the female body as opposed to male one or even a combination of both, was dictated purely by the fact that Mario Guarino’s intention was to focus on and challenge the instrumental stereotypes generally promoted by the media of what a female body or personality should be in order to appeal to the audience.

Details & Dimensions

Photography:Black & White on Paper

Artist Produced Limited Edition of:1

Size:24.8 W x 29.9 H x 2 D in

Shipping & Returns

Delivery Time:Typically 5-7 business days for domestic shipments, 10-14 business days for international shipments.

Mario Guarino moves to London in 2000 at the age of 22 from Italy to study advertising and mass communication at London College. After meeting art photographer Patrick Gorman he starts a course in photography at the Kensington & Chelsea College where subsequently he becomes Patrick's first assistant on a series of high profile assignments. Follows a period of apprenticeship and having assisted a range of international fashion photographers he makes the leap into becoming a free lance photographer with a first publication for The Face magazine. In the following years Mario works on editorial shoots and advertising campaigns for new and established fashion designers gaining the opportunity of travelling extensively and collaborating with a range of international clients in London, Moscow, Milan, Paris,Berlin and Copenhagen. In 2008 his first solo show is inaugurated in Shoreditch, East London at the Maverick Gallery with "Feminal" a controversial personal project on studies of the female body, Identity and Personality which attracted attention well beyond his entourage and a documentary for Sky Italy was shot during the preparation of the event. After that experience, while still shooting fashion, Mario becomes more and more focused on his personal portrait production which leads in 2009 to a collaboration with Bronx Productions to shoot a portraits project of real life Mafia Gangsters turned into actors with the Oscar and Golden Globe nominated movie Gomorrah. The work is based on a series of still photographs and recordings of on set conversations between Mario and the Actors which form a mixed media installation that will be shown in Italy later this year. Mario currently lives and works in London.

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