simona ghizzoni – aftermath [EPF Finalist]

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Simona Ghizzoni


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Emerging Photographer Fund – FINALIST (number three of eleven)


” These are the last things, she wrote. One by one they disappear and never come back.”

Paul Auster, In the Country of Last Things


Since early 2006, concurrent with my first reportage assignments, I have worked on a personal research project exploring the decay of memories. The following photographs are an abstract from the series titled “Aftermath”.

While originally meaning the welcome first new growth of grass after the cutting of hay, “aftermath” has now commonly come to mean the period following a major event or consequences of that event.

This work explores the aftermath of innocence lost. Growing up means you have to abandon the fantastic world of your childhood where everything is wrapped in a magic halo. When you are a child, the world is alive and humanized – animals, plants, and objects. My photographs are a glance at my childhood fantasies transformed in the aftermath to frozen and eerie visions.

All of these photographs are printed in black and white on cotton rag paper and hand-colored with Ecoline (liquid watercolors).


Simona Ghizzoni was born in Reggio Emilia, Italy, in 1977. After studying the classics, she attended the Istituto Superiore di Arti Visive e Fotografia in Padua, where she graduated in 2002. She went on to gain an MA in the history of photography from the University of Bologna in 2007, with a thesis on the history of psychiatric photography.

Since 2005 Ghizzoni has committed herself to reportage and personal research projects, especially concerning the condition of women. In 2006 she was selected for the Reflexions Masterclass, held by photographer Giorgia Fiorio and the curator Gabriel Bauret. In the same year she tied for first prize at the FNAC photo contest, with the work ‘Scars’, an essay on Sarajevo ten years after the end of the war. She took a third place prize from World Press Photo in 2008, a second place magazine feature picture story award at POYi in 2009, and was recently selected as one of 12 photographers to participate in the 16th Annual World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass this fall.

Ghizzoni is based in Rome and represented by Contrasto.


Related links:

Simona Ghizzoni

EDITOR’S NOTE:   ONE COMMENT PER PERSON PLEASE UNDER THIS ESSAY….further discussions may take place under Dialogue…many thanks for giving this a try… david alan harvey

55 Responses to “simona ghizzoni – aftermath [EPF Finalist]”

  • You mean this is all I have to say?


  • unbelievable…no wonder she’s a finalist…photographs like these make me suffer from strong inferiority complex…

  • Fantastic sense of space and narrative in each image, really interested about the process. The whole hands-on approach reflects the hands-on attitude of childhood. well done.

  • I suppose the photography itself is fine within the genre, but I personally just don’t like the piece. I think photography as personal therapy certainly has a place, but the symbols are too personal to mean anything to me. As fine art, fine. As an essay it doesn’t really work. I’m not opposed to introspection completely. Work like Sally Mann’s “What Remains,” appeals to me, but the symbolism represents something we universally experience, death. This seems to limit the audience to the photographer herself.

  • not my cup of tea really…
    but more importantly, i’ve ben wondering since watching the first finalist why we dont have any strong statement on why they are asking for a grant. This is a grant, right? not an award for a series of outstanding photos. So i would like to see and read more about the project (or better about its potential) and why money is required to continue it.
    Photographers in the end should give the judges very good reasons to carry on their projects. In this case for example i see very well executed “photographic paintings”, but that’s all, and i wouldnt see any reasons to let the photographer have 10,000 bucks unless she gives me a good reason for it. But as i said, this issue does not seem to be an important one, at least so far.

  • You don’t like this, Jim? Damn, I would never have expected that; next you’ll be telling us that you’re not a natural blond. I just dont know what this world is coming to these days. ;-)

  • This is not normally the kind of stuff I like, but I really like this stuff. I would love to see these as large prints, matted and framed along a clean, white gallery wall. Haunting. #8 and 15 sucker me in. Really nice work. Congrats.

  • Technicals look wonderful. Interesting technique you use. The arrangements are just outstanding.

    But I have to admit, although I know that you show very intimate pictures, I understand nothing. Either too personal or maybe too much art for me.

  • I can’t found a purpose, a direction in this work, a relationship between the presentation and the fine art pictures. But in the aesthetic the pictures have an inherent cohesion.

  • Not my cup of tea, either, but it’s a very solid and consistent essay, and quite powerful indeed. I like it quite a lot, though I don’t know why. Gran bel lavoro, Simona!

  • Individually and, I suppose, collectively this is a strong series of thought-provoking
    imagery that I really enjoyed.
    I’m probably splitting hairs but, as has been mentioned, I also don’t get the’essay’ component
    apart from the visual connection of this set.
    To my old school expectations of what constitutes an essay (somewhat defined theme with a semblance
    of an unfolding of facts through imagery) I can’t squeeze this piece into that mold.

    That’s nothing more than my baggage but, as a result, if i were voting for a winner this one
    wouldn’t make my personal shortlist despite really liking the images on an image by image basis

  • Real poetry in photography come from what it say and not what it show..and here it’s too much introspective, repetitive and narcissistic mixed with beauty and large format…

    I feel something and have compassion for what she could have suffered in her childhood but it asks me the places in such a grant?

    What is the project about?

    I really think that studying too much photography avoid photographers to take any risk and propose us something really surprising…

  • Teenagers and early 20 somethings that I teach love this sorta stuff, it has a huge market, book covers, the net, wallpaper etc. They collect draw, paint, photoshop etc these images with passion and love playing the metaphors that come hand in hand in this “style” Even the pseudo postmodern goths reckon it’s ants pants.
    I actually have run a workshop coupling this genre with the work of Saul Leiter, Fred Herzog and Spencer Platt’s 2006 WP image of the year, the results can be quite surprising. They learn a heap of “playstation” technical skills……. this leads to some film based work, video etc
    I guess a lot of work like this is about those searching times in one’s life when there is a fresh road to travel with only a short journey left behind. Thus the lack of direction and that can be a good thing as in the end we don’t need to keep all the images …….. only some

  • maybe I shouldnt have watched this while listening to tom waits.
    And I almost certainly shouldnt have read the artists statement.
    But I did..and I did.
    I watched the entire set of images, im sorry I dont class it as an essay, twice.
    There are some really quite nice images in there. There are quite a few very ‘clever’ images also.
    …..and some odd symbolic stuff that I personally found pointless.
    I see quite a lot of work along these lines, although usually in other mediums, and at shows at st martins and chelsea colleges where I mentor/tech for some students I know there. Most of it I dislike intensely and make no apology for that. That is just my opinion of course and most conceptual/fine artists woulkd likely just read that as my (probable) ignorance regarding the reading of the work.

    So essentially, there a a few images here that i would happily have hanging on my wall, and a whole bunch I most certainly would not. But as a coherent whole I can not see it at all.
    Also is it just me that really dislikes being TOLD what a picture/image is? What its about. Why its important. How I should approach it.
    Also while I am here. Why should i give a fig what paper its printed on? What does that have to do with its artistic merits? Dont get me wrong, I print on a whole range of digital and darkroom papers for their various effects, but why would i tell anyone that? Seems a bit of a conceit.
    sorry if I sound a bit harsh just trying to be honest about my experience of it.

  • There are some strikingly beautiful pictures here but the project is so deeply entwined with personal memories , I’m looking hard but not getting much out of it, maybe a little more information would go a long way towards getting my head around the choice of symbolism.

  • i’m always intrigued by pictures that evoke such a eerie sense to them. primordial ooze.

    absolutely Fan..f*cking..tastic…!

  • Not my cup of tea, but this is quite good cup of tea.
    I wish I could see some documentary photography here as good and strong as this piece of work is.

  • Nicely crafted individual images.

    There are a couple of images that I would hang on the wall or relish spending sometime flicking through in a sumptious book. As a set they feel like a portfolio of work rather than an essay.

    I am afraid I do not get the connection between leaving childhood behind with these, too personal and introspective.

    I agree with John above, “Why should i give a fig what paper its printed on? What does that have to do with its artistic merits? Dont get me wrong, I print on a whole range of digital and darkroom papers for their various effects, but why would i tell anyone that? Seems a bit of a conceit.” Also I feel this is the photographer trying to add “artistic merit” to the set of prints.

    On another note, you guys have a tough job, trying to pick 10 finalists from such a vast diversity of imagery/styles/subjects and putting them all together to playoff against each other.

    keep up the good work.

  • simona could well be a serial competition entrant..
    it seems as though these days there is an ever increasing trend in creating work and looking to competitions rather than publications or exhibitions.. and so i guess i agree with one post above asking how the money might be spent, in terms of how this project needs ´finishing´..

    some of the photos i really like – as ian said there are some cracking single photos..

    they remind me a great deal of contemporary stock photography.. a lot of what may have turned up on photoshelter collection and so overall it´s okay, to me.. without being floored by it..

  • Like many other’s said it: overall good, sensitive and highly personal work. Actually, I don’t ‘get’ most of the pictures, but I just hang on the mood – I like the atmosphere. I don’t know if this is my cup of tea – but who cares, because I am a coffee drinker.

    Since this is a EPF finalist and the idea was to give a grant of 10K to the winner to continue the project…I’m wondering how this kind of highly personal art work could be selected for this… I was imagining the finalists to have kind of work/subjects that reeeeally requires the money to be able to continue it… Well, art photographers also need to pay bills and feed the kids, I guess.

  • I am one that believes in the poetry of image-making, and am always searching for how one can retell a poem in images- that is my forte. But I don’t think that this series achieves that end. The line between good and bad poetry is so thin, between pretension and authenticity even more so. Unfortunately I think this series falls twice into the former of these two categories. On first glance, some of the images appear strong, but then the over-photoshopping- burning/desaturization gets in the way. The series doesn’t come across as an exploration of personal memory, but of what society tells us a memory, a haunting experience which shadows us, is supposed to look like. In a strange way it reflects a larger truth- in the lack of memory, we create false ones. Not so ground-shattering.

  • What a brilliant idea,and how brilliantly depicted.The super power of imagination flows through lens towards eternity.

  • I feel torn about this work. On the one hand I recognize that it is well crafted and at points quite compelling, but I find that some of symbolisms being used are so specific to the photographer that they leave little to no entry point for an audience. I am not able to relate to this work. I also both admire the hand painted technique and find it cliche. Something about the limited color palette along with the dark, surreal imagery is just a bit too far removed from reality for me. I can’t find my grounding here. I find it odd that I don’t like this work because it is in many ways very similar to my own. I do think this work is good, and it has potential. Maybe if she receives this grant and is able to develop it further, it could be great.

  • I tend to agree with Luzz Biteyear, I love the work. Very beautifully done. But why the grant? What is the money going to be used for? I agree also that in the future it may be good to have the photographers include a statement explaining where they want to go with the project and what the funding will be used for.

    But again. It is really nice work.

  • I sense violence,
    my favorite image is
    the woman about to jump in the creek…
    as an essay,
    it leaves me feeling unsettled…
    I like the figurative images,
    and wish there were more…
    with the figures in the photos,
    I feel they tell more of your story,
    the animals took me out of your story…
    from the screaming of crazed criminals,
    to the silent screams within…..

  • I like the photographs and the concept behind them; congratulations on being a finalist Simona. Good use of the square; not an easy frame to fill.

    DAH, Luzz does have a very valid point: the work shown here should be a beginning; perhaps not of an essay but at least a springboard for future work. Do your finalists say what they would use the grant for or do you see the fact that they are being shown here and the publicity that they receive by being here the reward and the grant as icing on the cake?

    I suppose that I’m thinking of how last year’s grant helped Sean Gallagher to continue his work in China. Will this year’s recipient do the same or is the grant the reward? Just asking, no criticism.



  • is it me or has the ONE COMMENT RULE worked? -DB

    so true DB, even i was surprised to see the extent that a single weed could choke out some healthy contributions. It’s clearly more healthy now with the troll-muzzle enacted in that people feel compelled to use their efforts for ‘quality’ verse quantity and healthy in that there are more new people there that might not have felt compelled to step into a road knowing for sure an ugly warty troll would jump out!

    anyway, if we can just get everyone to stop taking ALL the troll-bait we might win another victory. DAH that means you too, you just keep falling for that same old chestnut.

    i’m still undecided about Simona’s work. For me this is exactly the kind of work I had in the back of my mind when i wrote This Comment on Lori Vrba’s essay.

    so is this an essay or is it just a set of images? is it a puzzle to play, or is it just a bunch of pretty pictures and therefore just a hoax.

    something tells me it’s cohesive in a lucid sort of way. Something tells me that this is a string of images knitted together much in the same way lyrics are strung along in a Tori Amos song. But how much does this feel like graphic design? and most importantly, how true is Ki’s comment? Ki’s comment has really got me thinking.

    the deviant art movement has jaded me a bit towards this kind of work, but i also think this rises above it, to some extent. i’d like to hear more from Ki as i think more from Ki might be really valuable, it’s unfortunate that someone who self-proclaims the genre as their ‘forte’ didn’t leave us a link to their work. i’d like to see what an improvement on this work would be, or is the concept of ‘Ki’ a hoax as well?, a well written one though!! :-)

    Ki, This place is filled with documentary-disciples that think all grant money is created to pay for travel expenses. How should we evaluate this type of work as worthy of financial awards? Something tells me you might be able to best articulate it.

    Thank you for your initial wisdom and i hope i’m thanking you in advance for some more subject-matter-expertise.



  • I agree with Jim, “as fine art fine”…This is not the kind of photography I admire or understand, to be put another way. Here the artist is creating some kind of mood, but not capturing it, spontaneously, as we saw in Jenn Ackerman’s work…I feel as in the first piece this is another example of documentary photography swinging to art.

  • “L’immagine è spirito, materia, tempo, spazio, occasione per lo sguardo. Tracce che sono prove di noi stessi e il segno di una cultura che vive incessantemente i ritmi che reggono la memoria, la storia, le norme del sapere..’–mario giacomelli…

    one of my photographic heros, mario giacomellit turned away from the extrarodinary ‘documentary’ work that he’d spent his entire life engage with (to document and sing the song of his part of Italy), toward a story that spoke about his own relationship with land and life and memory and time. I frankly never see a bifurcation between these approaches to photography, but in the most superficial way. Simona balances this same perspective. Her work on Cambodia and the unexploded landmines is extraordinary: powerful, compelling, and heart-breakingly photographed. It is also true that all of her work evokes a painterly understanding and sensibility of image. Frankly, i see nothing wrong with this: to carve from one’s own countenance, a documented world surrounding. This work too, Aftermath, is beautiful…even though it is indeed hermetic, many of the photographs connect to my own childhood memories and what we now as an adult, vanquish: particularly the photographs of the animals. I think the mirror vs. window is a bit of a canard, though I do agree that it is one (of many) frameworks in which to place work. Is Frank a window or a mirror? for me, for the best of photographic work, that metaphor falls apart…mirrors are window’s into appearance and windows always reflect the person standing behind them…it’s rarely an that or this calculation…

    I enjoyed her Aftermath and many of the pictures are indeed beautiful and powerful. I was more drawn to the less surreal iconography than those images which seem more hermetic. The pictures of the animals, just as with Sarah Moon’s (another hero) work takes the quotidian life of the animals which surrounds us (zoos and the circus) and turns them into dream and nightmare. When listening a story, the faith in a story comes from the authenticity of the character of the voice: do you believe what is being told, no matter how odd or phantasmagorical. We trust, not necessarily that which we easily recognize or understand, but that what is conveyed to us by an authentic voice. In truth, all stories tell the same story, a negotiation of meaning and fiction, an attempt to rhyme things that seem to make sense. As an essay, it’s fine for me. I think, maybe, the audience is very used to the simple, linear narrative of a traditional photographic story. Ironically, i’m finishing up Bolano’s 2666, a story that is very much like a Labyrinth of the real and the imagined…the only logic of a story is that of the story tellers and while it might be ‘difficult’ to connect all the individual images to the statement, as a viewer I am always willing to be enscorcelled by images…if they work they’re magic on me, im there…if not, then not….

    for me, the most beautiful photographs in this series are not the ones constructed (i much much prefer the from-life constructions of Meatyard, for example), but the sense where the real world enters the world of dream: a negotiation…what does the giraffe or sea lion mean to her, the zebra suit, this Lynchian woods….those are the moments that speak to me best…it might appear that this ‘essay’ is more a collection of singles than a story to some…and maybe for me as well some of the moments seemed too much ‘worked in’ to the story, but this is her evocation of memory, her story about negotiating story and time……i judge work on a simple criterion: does it evoke my interest…… it may not be your ‘cup of tea’, but i don’t understand why often the voices are shown here are now so often judged through the prism of one’s own sensibility. It may not work ‘narratively’ for everyone, but this, in many ways, is an essay which has the same logic as a dream….try to put an essay of a dream and analyze it…..

    so, big congratulations to Simona, i look forward to seeing where there beautiful work leads…..and congratulations on the WPP Masterclass as well…

    all the best

  • Aesthetically these photographs are wonderful; rich in texture with a sumptuous dark color palette and appealing ephemeral quality. I especially like 19 and agree with comments that space is captured well in these photos. As a group though, even though I know these are intended to be metaphorical and dreamy, I find the symbolism too cryptic and at times even cliché, making the series feel disjointed to me, which I think could benefit then from stronger correlation or continuity beyond the process and aesthetic quality

  • I see a lot of that style of photography when I visit bookstores, browzing thru the glossiest photo monthly or quaterlies. It does explain why Simona did receive many accolades from the “metier” already.

    To me, it does little, and i unfortunately will forget what it’s in it and what it’s about.

    Except for one photo. #15, with the flasmingos. This is an absolutely great, beautiful, unforgettable photo. Its poetry is sublime, wordless. Bravo, bravo, Simona, I am grateful that I got to see it.

  • Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just have trouble really making any critical comments about a photographer who has won major prizes when I have not. I mean who am I to comment when I have not won a World Press or PoYi Award or been elected to the Joop Swart Masterclass? A photographer’s work may not be to your own liking but somehow judges of major contests have deemed it quite worthy.

  • It is a breath of fresh air to be able to look at an essay and then read comments ABOUT THE ESSAY beneath.
    I do believe this new system is working!!! Clean and clear…I hope we can stick with this one comment system.

    Davin, good point. :))

    This work may not be my cup of tea but why should Simona or anyone other than myself care to know that?

  • I’ve looked at these images several times now. They did not speak to me for the most part the first time through. I loved the first/last image, and was dissapointed that what followed between did not seem to fit.

    Now, after a few more viewings, and reading a few comments, and letting them settle in for awhile, they are starting to grow on me.

    Do I need someone to tell me what the pictures are about, why not? Nothing wrong with “setting the scene” in a story, even if words do it instead of pictures.

    I am reminded of studying literature, poetry especially. Some poems are pretty easy to understand and the message is right on the surface. But other poems make you work to find their messages and secrets. Some help you find your own secrets. Then there is the whole body of poems that I don’t get, and likely would never get in a million years unless helped through it by an English professor….my own limitations.

    To be sure I like some of these images more than others. (the easy ones to read), the series as a whole, still doesn’t speak to me. But I’d love to have them in a book to view and digest. I’m intriqued.

    Congratulations Simona and good luck.

    PS lovin’ the one comment rule, didn’t think I would.

  • Wow, this one is tough. I’m going out on a limb here, but things are different in Italy. And just to be fair, the same can be said for any country. Simona’s work reflects a cultural context. When we react we do so with our own cultural biases; intended or otherwise.

    The blend of personal exploration combined with well refined images makes viewing these images a treat. There are so many “what the…” moments. Simona’s offerings don’t fit the expected Emerging expectation because they don’t fit into what I sense is a preconception that there must be weight given to traditional documentary or photojournalism or reportage or whatever. The selections so far reveal a much broader agenda which matches the criteria: “This body of work may be of either journalistic mission or purely personal artistic imperatives” (please note the copy/paste)

    This much I have learned by following Burn: Expect the unexpected. Thank you Simona. Thank you DAH.

  • beautiful photoshop session… still too pretentious I think to have beat out 1190 others. It is quite obvious that in reading most of these comments most of you would agree. But that doesn’t matter, we all know that. Just my opinion… hopes for my two year project (that is focused on others) ever getting noticed-slowly deflating… these days art “photography” gets the gold. Ok, no more bitterness. Goodnight all and to all a goodnight.

  • I find this a very challenging set of well-produced images. While I don’t think I understand them, I’m also fairly sure that I won’t forget them. Haunting, visceral, interpretive; this is an area of significant interest for me and at that level I would like to feel more of a participant in the experience. I’d appreciate just a little more sign-posting, either in the image or text.

  • Incredibili, esteticamente affascinanti e piene di emozione. Complimenti!
    Ci ho visto un po’ di Francesca Woodman…

  • Genius is childhood recalled at will.

    – Charles Baudelaire

  • “Gostos nao se discutem! Criticam-se!” – In a literal translation from this portuguese saying – “You don’t discuss tastes! You criticize them!”

    Although I can see the quality of this work technically, as a whole or as a project/essay – call it what you like, I can’t see why is it so extraordinarily different then lots of other works. In resume what makes it stand out.

    Bob Black makes a couple of references on his post, that curiously came in to my mind when I saw this work: Roberto Bolano’s 2666 and Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s photographs. While as in Bolano’s novel, this work makes use or takes us to a “alternative reality” where the plot unfolds; when we put it side by side with Meatyard’s work it kind of comes short on the expectations that it creates in that task of taking us to the personal universe of the photographer… at least for me!

    This are my 5 cents, obviously, and to finish as I start “Tastes are not to be discussed, are to be criticized”.

    Congratulations and best wishes to Simona and all the other ten finalists.

    Cheers to you all,


  • Again cheese, as Alejandro´s work. Hope the works coming get better.

  • Thank god that DAH does not wear blinders that keep him from seeing the value of work that falls outside the boundaries of photojournalism, for if he did I might never have experienced this essay of Simona’s. I say “experienced” rather than “seen” because with her images she takes me into the hidden recesses of my own memories and dreams. So much is triggered, not all of it pleasant but every piece necessary in determining who I am today. Thank you, Simona, for opening my eyes and heart ever wider to recognize what I often do not want to remember, but must if I am to use my past in constructive not destructive ways.

    Speaking as a fine artist-turned-photographer, I value how Simona has used her artist’s eye to construct scenes that reflect those inarticulate places within ourselves that long for expression but all too often come up looking contrived or artificial when we try to make them manifest. Simona’s photographs are technically brilliant, yes, but these technical elements never get in the way of what she is trying to say. The message is paramount here and it evokes rather than tells the viewer what is going on. For each viewer will see something unique to their own life experience, that is if they can open up to the subjective.

    Brava, Simona!


  • The beginning (a naked body in a naked church, ritual of baptism?) and the end of Simona’s journey (a grown up woman) appear clearly defined and in line with her focusing on “innocence lost”. But, in the middle, what’s really lost is the path… which could happen with childhood fantasies, in particular if such fantasies are not your own… animals (alive, in pieces, evokated in things) are in almost every frame and for sure are the subject of the most intriguing and gorgeous images. I appreciate many shots, but cannot get the essay as a whole, and, in the end, the logical evolution superimposed by the first and the last shots (together with the symbolism of the dress and the sequence naked-dressed-naked-dressed) bothers me more than the obscure sense I feel amidst.

    About Paul O’Mara comment:
    “I’m going out on a limb here, but things are different in Italy. And just to be fair, the same can be said for any country. Simona’s work reflects a cultural context.”

    I share the same cultural context of Simona, at least from a countrywide perspective, but I can only find a thin “Italian” connotation in her work (and related to daily things, for example the floor in number 6 and the game “gioco della settimana” in number 14, but maybe such game is played by children in every country… ;). Instead, the first visual reference that came to my mind was Hyeronymous Bosch (for example “The Garden of Earthly Delights”), due to the enigmatic mix of human and animal elements.

  • I like the processing and the mood it invokes at a technical level. The mood however leaves me somewhat uncomfortable as a viewer. I wonder is this intended. I can’t say that I understand the depth of what the subject is trying to get across but if it has invoked a sense of discomfort then the essay has touched an emotional reaction which is interesting. To be able to recreate and modify the element of the emotion is a challenge for all photographers.

    Well done on being selected as an EPF finalist. Good luck.

  • I need to break the One Comment rule to apologize for posting my comment under Ross Nolly’s name. I had posted a comment for him recently and forgot to return to my own name. Sorry, Ross.


  • “My photographs are a glance at my childhood fantasies transformed in the aftermath to frozen and eerie visions.”

    Whoa, Babe!

    I agree with Hernan Zenteno (above):
    “I can’t found (sic) a purpose, a direction in this work, a relationship between the presentation and the fine art pictures. But in the aesthetic the pictures have an inherent cohesion.”

  • First, I would like to express congratulations to Simona for reaching the TOP 10. Certainly a notable achievement in itself, given BURNS increasing readership/response. The way things are shaping, it certainly a fine achievement to reach this much discussed 10.

    With the essay, I experienced a number of conflicting emotions while watching this essay. I moved from a sense of disorder to feelings of joy followed by upheaval. I particularly liked numbers 1@11 as they seemed universal in their appeal. I found that quite a few of shots such as these, were reminiscent of horror film stills, such as the Ring. Technically, all of these photographs were fantastic and I liked the vignetting in a number of the shots. This essay had the mark of authorship as each shot seemed technically similar to the others. I liked this aspect a lot.

    I felt that the essay would have flowed better, if the photos of fish (2&5) were together, as breaking them up seemed to destroy the momentum of the essay as a whole. However, one could argue that dreams or memories don’t have any consistant rationale to their sudden appearance. The giraffe and elephant photographs were Cool, with a capital C. The way they were photographed, it was almost as if they were stuffed animals on the bookcase of a child. I liked this.

    The photographer seemed to ascribe/disguise personal hidden meanings to a number of the photos. Photographs 6&14 used letters and numbers to encrypt a message, and was if the photographer was challenging the viewer to decode this very personal world. However, these photographs seemed too personal and instead of allowing me to become part of Simona’s world, I felt a sense of indifference. I felt like being left out of my best friends 21st birhtday party. Perhaps instead they were clues to Simona’s dream world and the viewer is free to draw their own indefinite conclusions.

    Others have asked whether the grant should be given to a personal fine arts project as opposed to a typical photo journalists project. This is a good question, but I don’t think this demarcation is so important. What is of significance is how much the photographer involves the viewer or audience in their published essays. I think that this is an important distinction, because I have also viewed photo-journalists work that is not so universal in its appeal, and in the long run it can also leaves the viewer just as cold as a overly introverted fine arts project. So, what is important is projecting an essay that has more of a universal message/s for viewers to decode. I hope this makes sense.


  • i cant help but seeing this as a Darwinesque/Freudian unravelling of the true nature of mankind from an old world perspective. Starting with coming out of the closet and resulting in going back to nature, with an identifying and shedding of mankind’s built up memories as to the nature of man.
    I guess like a story, a song, there is room for interpretation here.
    As far as a photo essay, it certainly works for me.

  • I’ve been a keen reader of Burn, I will try to define what it is to me before talking about the work. Its my first post..
    Burn is about promoting good photography and I guess the award is about elevating certain approaches and practices and abilities as more worthy than others. It remains unclear though what the criteria is for the award and I think it is necessary whereas for the blog itself not so.
    The great thing about the award is it place within this blog which really is a great ground upon which people who care about photography can voice and express their opinions. That is the great strength of BURN. Ideally BURN (its readers and contributors) would be the judges and award givers for this competition. But this is not a democracy but a republic (and I believe rightly so) and therefore there should be some line some statement of what the republic defends.

    The work itself does not work for me. It reminds me about a lot of work I see on the large democratic photo. website. Pleasing to the eye but not challenging the way we perceive (eye candy, not visual vitamins). Bodies of visual work that claim memory and loss as their subject often fall prey to cliche and repetition like a body of work on humanity and suffering would.

    Art or journalism.
    I don’t understand the conflict within so many photographers over this debate, many people seem to give an opinion in one category or the other then excuse themselves by stating that it may belong to the other category (implying to which their opinions hold no authority) and in doing so they are slighting one over the other. I have an architecture/art background but I’m a photographer. The goals of art are to shed light onto the reality of the what we are, to better communicate that which by conventional forms of communication fail and undermine a subject. It has always struck me that this is the goal of this blog and is what forward thinking journalism is about. When the conversation turns to is this art or journalism for me the discussion is over.
    Although this work is impressive in many ways I think it works to further separate the two classifications in a place and situation that should be about bringing them together.

  • françois Dupond

    I would not speak to much about Simona work (too many musical notes miss to me) nor through Bob Black reaction, I know it’s only one comment per personn so it’s perhaps not the place to discuss together but Bob’s very clear way of writing make me react, like Simona form it can mesmerize us and hide the essential.

    Comparaison with Mario Giacomelli is a real humorous sacrilege. They diverge from all parts. I will not re-write Giacomelli C-V but those who know him well knows that first he never study photography, he never speak about himself, never speak about photography, his permanent references to painting also (even we can disagree) was the first Italian reacting agaisnt the Cliché of the italian’ sensuality and beauty. His works like “Hospice” was the exact opposite of such way to work, straight, hard, kicking out all beauty to disturb us as it has traumatize the photographer, the way to use large format, the way to colorize (only) would have been a sacrilege for Mario, the childhood of Mario influenced him only technicly speaking as he came from an extrem poor familly, even his beautifull landscape was only done because the lines of the land was the ripples of the farmers. Speaking of himself would have been an abomination for Giacomelli. Mario Giacomelli experiment, push the limit, made things people never saw before, he created things and never applied some specific recipes but invent them. He took risk etc etc..

    I wouldn’t also say that mario never win a contests or any grants…but only a symbolic prize from the german photo society in 1995….

    This comparaison is like saying that all frenchys who shot decisiv moment do like HCB, all americans shooting supermarket parking do like Shore or Eggleston, like all german shooting factories do like Hans & Hila etc etc… It is really reducing our access to the world. It is saying we know before it really start. Photography is stronger than this…

  • Buongiorno!
    this is the first time I leave a comment here, even though I have been constantly checcked .BURN since it was launched.

    Thank you David for creating this, it means so much to me. It’s the first blog ever actively partecipated to and a constant font of inspirations and motivations!

    Michael, you work deserve the best. The pictures are deep, visually stunning. They even manage to be vibrant in the loneliness feeling they provoke.
    Absolutely marvellous, congratulations!

    cheers, everybody!

  • This is mostly in reply to David Ellicson’s comment – Davin, come on! Give the awards the boot. They mean nothing other than an majority of individual’s votes at a particular moment in time. and just because photographers win contests or get into a class doesn’t make your opinion about their work less meaningful. You don’t have to like everything everyone else likes. I felt so timid when I first started in photography because I didn’t particularly like HCBresson. But he was, according to my teacher, a God. I can understand why he is one of THE most important fathers of photography but personally he isn’t my favorite. So what, I’m not an opinion clone of everyone else. I appreciate an honest, original critique of work than an agreement with the bandwagon. And this carries over into your photography, so be careful. Work that people call “successful”, and that you don’t agree with, might make you think that you’re not doing something right, or maybe you should try something more that style. Forget that! Believe in yourself a little more.

    Simona – Brava! I think the work is beautiful. Although I get lost in it a little bit, it gives me just enough clues in each frame, and teaches me about you. It also connects me to my own visions from childhood – and work that can do something different for each viewer is really special. I don’t know if I would call it an “essay”. The photographs don’t tell a narrative in any traditional sense. But hell, what is tradition anyway? This is yours, certainly. Good Luck in the future!


  • Many of these photos are reminiscent of Francesca Woodman. Too reminiscent. From the limb disappearing into the wall-closet, to the dress, to the lusciously textured decaying walls and the stuffed animals of the curiosity cabinet. These pictures are lovely, but in my mind too much like Woodman’s in both style and content to be called original work.

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