Jewish artist: rediscovering the work of Lisetta Carmi

Rediscovering the work of Lisetta Carmi

Lisetta Carmi, Geneva Art Centre, May-June 2019.

Born in Genoa into a Jewish bourgeois family, Lisetta Carmi, after advanced piano studies and under the influence of Italian political movements, became involved in the progressive left-wing social struggle and gave up her concert career.

At the same time, she began to photograph as a self-taught photographer. Among other things, she photographed workers in the port of Genoa, its industrial zones and the famous Staglieno cemetery.

She then discovers the world of transvestites. She frequented them for 5 years at the end of the 60s and thanks to them she discovered her real social identity. Refusing the role that society assigns to women, this experience makes her think about the right that everyone has to determine their identity.

She creates a series of portraits published under the title “Travestiti”. The book causes a scandal because it is the first one on the middle. Later she manages in a few minutes to make about twenty portraits of Ezra Poun, whom she dreamed of meeting but who just opens her door. She will do another series of shots in Sicily, before giving up photography.

The image is introduced into the crevices of reality by mirroring those of appearances. Each work by Lisetta Carmi becomes a novel, a silent cinema. Wax and circumstantial dialogue is no longer an issue.

The creator always remains “militant”. She learns to reopen her eyes, to not just enjoy fixed appearances. The image goes beyond the simple exhibition into a distanced expressionism. It plays on a simultaneous rendering of various intimate and public facets and by superimposing layers.

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