Collective consciousness, pressing social issues and art are the driving forces behind ULTRA, a night-long photography exhibition to be held in Prato’s former industrial space Corte Genova.
On July 19, from 9pm to 7am, LGBTQIA+ rights will take centre stage in Where Love is Illegal, a reportage project by New Zealand photographer Robin Hammond, who has captured personal accounts from gay communities in 70 countries where same-sex relationships are considered a criminal offence, 17 nations where circulating information about the LGBTQIA+ community is forbidden and 12 in which homosexual acts are punishable by death. This is more than an exhibition, but a worldwide social media, awareness-building and fundraising campaign, in partnership with the Witness Change team.
“Spreading the word about Where Love is Illegal means giving a face to those who are persecuted for their choice to love despite social stigmas and, above all, brings an international-scale offering to the local area,” explains Claudia Gori, president of Associazione Sedici, the group of photographers and visual artists behind the event.
The OFF circuit of ULTRA 2019 breaks down gender boundaries to focus on human relationships. Des familles by Vincent Gouriou, the award-winning French photographer, does away with labels to tell deeply intimate stories that only the strongest feelings can elicit. Florian Hetz’s Haut/Koerper looks at the worlds of theatre and dance as fragments of an amorous discourse in a return to the body, skin and touch.
The final word goes to young local photographer Martina Melchionno. Alice tenderly and transparently recounts a transition, a yearning that becomes flesh and earth, air and breath.
“I met Alice in April 2015, when her ID still bore the name Fausto and becoming a woman seemed a long way off,” Melchionno explains. “Deep down, back then and at birth she’d always been Alice, someone who loved everything about being a woman ... Alice’s from Ceprano, a village in the Frosinone province, where time feels like it’s stood still. It was in those alleys that I realized how hard it must be for her to be Alice. Now her hair’s long and her body’s becoming that of a real woman ... I immediately admired her willpower and determination, the fact that she hides neither from herself nor from her family, the fact that she isn’t scared about the way she feels. My role as photographer was to shine a light on what everyone asks her to relegate to the shadows.”
Expect a selection of short films from the Queer Video Contest, part of Florence Queer Festival, and two silent movies, in addition to DJ sets and musical accompaniments from SADI Oortmood, a musician who has worked with record labels and artists on the experimental electro and jazz scenes in Germany, Australia and Switzerland. The exhibitions will be on display, by appointment, until July 28.