Beauty has gone out of fashion, we are in the age of squalor

Beauty has gone out of fashion, we are in the age of squalor

Giorgia Massari · 6 months ago · Art

Perfection seems to be outdated. We are no longer drawn to straight lines and smooth geometries, high-resolution photos, or immaculate white spaces in the white cube. The fascination with the ugly seems to have captivated everyone: from fashion trends going to extremes on TikTok to art that increasingly embraces urban spaces and brutalist aesthetics. There appears to be a shift in favor of imperfection, which is becoming more pronounced on social media. Consider the photo-dump carousels featuring poorly taken shots and even hospital photos, especially by celebrities. But why are we so drawn to imperfection? One aspect to consider is the need to return to an authentic and truthful language after years of meticulously crafted images. The second aspect is more psychological and raw. In a way, we can define this as the era of decay, or rather, disillusionment brought about by a precarious condition that makes it difficult for the younger generations to fulfill themselves easily. Perhaps, therefore, we accept the ugly in others and ourselves, and in the world in general, because we are aware of an impending socio-cultural decline. This is reflected in new TikTok trends that encourage “rotting in bed” and, more broadly, in embracing idleness. Think of #bedrotting, lazy girl jobs, or the term Goblin mode. We find ourselves in an age of squalor that says a lot about us.

@virginradiotoronto The word of the year for 2022 is… #goblinmode ♬ original sound – VirginRadioToronto

This is not the first time in history that the rediscovery of the ugly, or more broadly, a period of disillusionment, has occurred, often after major tragedies, as seen in the post-World War II period with the Avant-garde movements. In the eighteenth century, there was also a reflection on the concept of ugliness. We recall a quote by Jean-Baptiste Du Bos that reflects on the idea that “an emotion can be aroused more intensely by what in art causes displeasure.”

Marcel Duchamp, Fontana (1917)

Towards a deviant aesthetic

In the art world, all of this is reflected in a pessimistic and raw aesthetic, as seen in the growing popularity of the cyberpunk movement, especially in terms of social rebellion. Curators and gallery owners are increasingly choosing urban or abandoned locations for exhibitions. A branch of art is turning to a rediscovery of brutalism, placing meaning above aesthetics. The pursuit of pristine perfection is being replaced by the need to address current and contemporary issues such as identity crisis, social disintegration, and environmental problems through a language that reflects them. Art, especially installation and performance art, aims to shock the audience, confronting them with reality through a very direct language.

For example, a frame from the drama The Parents’ Room (2021), presented at the Venice Biennale last year by Diego Marcon (Busto Arsizio, 1985). Marcon, one of the most intriguing Italian artists of the current generation, creates enigmatic dramas in which he envisions a new humanity plagued by profound moral uncertainties and trapped in endlessly repeating distressing actions. His works are disturbing, with the monstrous masks worn by the actors contrasting with the dramatic narrative, creating discomfort in the viewer.

Another example is Ambra Castagnetti (1993, Genoa), who was also part of the Venice Biennale in 2022. According to Elisa Carollo’s text for the Quadriennale di Roma, for the artist, «The work of art, as a cultural product, becomes a tool to speak about this relationship, in works that appear as debris of a dystopian future and remnants of a past utopia.» Castagnetti’s sculptures, installations, videos, and performances emerge from the need to reflect «on the existential and political dimension of the body in the world.»

MRZB, Foto di scena

It’s worth mentioning the MRZB collective, which initially looked at the byproducts of global consumerism. MRZB’s work starts from marginal and underground places; their studio/shack is constructed from reclaimed materials in a peripheral area of Turin. Today, «the work presents itself as a post-post-modern pastiche of trash, glam, gothic, pulp, horror, and hardcore aesthetics,» as described in Alessandra Franetovich’s text for the Quadriennale di Roma. «The margin is thus a real point of comparison, but it also takes on the features of a narrative artifice to address historical issues of marginalization, where the figures of the clown, the mannequin, fetish objects, and horrific situations stage a theater of masks that speaks of being a freak, the fragility, and the fragmentation of existence today

Conceptual Design with Little Functionality in Urban Environments

Even in the world of design, particularly collectibles, there is a growing trend towards organic and imperfect forms rather than the preference for rigidity and cold materials like steel or glass. While design has always been focused on serving a specific function, today it leans more towards recycling and repurposing, favoring the creation of irregular objects and using raw materials. The urban and decadent aesthetic is also gaining popularity in interior design. Consider, for example, the choice of materials that increasingly includes expanded polyurethane or melted recycled plastic. Here are some examples.

Niko June, A Single Brick Candle Holder
Niko June, A Single Brick Candle Holder
Achilles Ion Gabriel

The ugly shoe trend, ugly chic, and the genesis of the trend that encourages us to “rot in bed”

words by Anna Frattini

From the ugly shoe trend to the fascination with wrinkled clothing, numerous trends promote the aesthetics of the ugly. TikTok hosts many trends in this direction, from #feralgirlsummer to #ratgirlsummer, and even the “Rotting in Bed” trend, which reflects a reaction to the hyperactivity in our daily lives, both in work and leisure. In the world of fashion, think of Miuccia Prada’s ugly chic, which has found beauty in the ugly with her Prada and MiuMiu collections. This revolution has long influenced women’s fashion and seems to be a timeless trend.

Specifically, the “Rotting in Bed” trend encourages us to reflect on the necessity of staying in bed and finding peace in doing nothing. It represents near-total immobilism, almost akin to the concept of Goblin mode, “unrepentantly self-indulgent, lazy, sloppy, or greedy behavior that rejects social norms and expectations.” This expression was even chosen as the Oxford English Dictionary‘s word of the year in 2022, and we can see it reflected in many of Julia Fox‘s looks, one of the most controversial personalities in recent years.

Beauty has gone out of fashion, we are in the age of squalor
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Beauty has gone out of fashion, we are in the age of squalor
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Not your usual Granny

Not your usual Granny

Giorgia Massari · 1 week ago · Photography

“But what will you do with all the photos you take of me, one is enough for the cemetery, you know!” comments the grandmother of photographer Alessia Spina, who has made her the undisputed protagonist of her latest project. Nonnetta is the title of the photographic project that marks the transgenerational bond. An exploration of intimacy led by a granddaughter armed with an analog camera, rooted in her family and traditions. In Alessia Spina’s photographs, Nonna Elvira embodies the essence of all grandmothers, and through these images, we witness a tapestry of glances, laughter, gestures, tastes, acts of care, and daily rituals, each imbued with an emotional depth that challenges capture. Spina’s project will be on display in Milan from October 1st to 13th as part of the PhotoFestival at Via Laghetto 2.

Nonna Elvira represents not only herself but all grandmothers. She seizes life with both hands, savoring its joys and laughter. She is a safe harbor, much like her beloved San Benedetto del Tronto, her hometown. She is a drawer filled with goodness, to be opened when needed, when it’s cold outside and the world inside aches. She is a repository of memories, brimming with the unique flavors of her cannelloni and a fragrance that fills the mind and heart, soothing even the deepest wounds, much like Proust’s madeleine.

In the frames captured by Alessia Spina, we witness the eternal beauty of the transgenerational bond, a tapestry woven from the threads of love, memories, and the essence of family. Nonnetta is not just a photographic project; it is a testament to the power of love and the timeless connections that bind generations together.

Ph Credits Alessia Spina

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Not your usual Granny
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Davide Degano’s Romanzo Meticcio

Davide Degano’s Romanzo Meticcio

Collater.al Contributors · 1 week ago · Photography

Davide Degano‘s project, Romanzo Meticcio, will be on display at Liquida from May 3rd to 5th. It is an analysis of the Italian post-colonial condition as a fundamental element of the contemporary life of the Bel Paese. The aim is to express a critical attitude towards Italy’s fascist heritage of the past in favor of a careful analysis of its effects on today’s society. If the narrative created by the Italian state – since its unification – is based on the identification of places and people considered marginal, the issue is more complicated than expected. To navigate this complex and layered issue, Degano employs an interdisciplinary approach that emphasizes the need to consider the various marginalized categories in their co-presence and intersection rather than as separate entities.

Photography in the 1930s was a fundamental tool for justifying colonial policies and representing certain situations and people as marginal. Photographs thus became a performative act of exclusion. “Romanzo Meticcio” aims to create new imaginaries and cultural scenarios by questioning Italian identity to the core. With his work, Davide Degano aligns himself precisely in this direction, offering a critical and provocative look at Italian history and identity through an interdisciplinary work that embraces photography and narration.

Davide Degano’s Romanzo Meticcio
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Giuseppe Scianna Shows Us A Turkey Still In Pieces

Giuseppe Scianna Shows Us A Turkey Still In Pieces

Giorgia Massari · 6 days ago · Photography

More than a year has passed since the two quakes of magnitude 6.4 and 5.8 that struck Turkey’s Hatay province. The spotlight has now died down but citizens continue to struggle for survival in inhumane conditions that strain their dignity. There is one photographer, Italian and very young, Giuseppe Scianna, class of ’99, who has decided to document the current situation to once again highlight the conditions of these people. Scianna is a photojournalist based in Sicily, and at the center of his work are often the most difficult social issues. From environmental pollution to life in the suburbs, Scianna has also worked with various NGOs and received the Sony World Photography Awards 2022. But let’s find out more about this project titled Limited Residency.

giuseppe scianna
Ahmed and Treves tries to salvage what he can from what remains of his home. There is often little time because the Turkish state is advancing in the demolition of unsafe buildings.. Ekinci 2023.

«These regions – those of Turkey affected by the earthquake – are inhabited by about four million people, displaced in the various municipalities and other parts of the country, who often live in makeshift settlements lacking any kind of health care,» explains Giuseppe Scianna who chose this area of Turkey – specifically the city of Hatay – to carry out his recent photographic project Limited Residence. «About 70 percent of the injured people have some form of disability,» Scianna continues, «as they do not have access to sanitation, they live in inadequate facilities, and their dignity and right to health are put at risk by the authorities and humanitarian aid.»

giuseppe scianna
The biggest problem concerns access to toilets; the communal facilities are inaccessible to people with poor or no mobility. Unable to go to the latrines, many people with disabilities have to get help from caregivers or depend on diaper supplies. Tavla 2023.

Testimony and empathy

What Giuseppe Scianna shows us in his shots is a Turkey still in pieces. His gaze is always gentle, still as a photojournalist but with an empathy that emerges. Women, children, men-everyone, no one excluded-are the protagonists of this misfortune and of his shots, which highlight on the one hand the strength and adaptability of human beings, and on the other hand the injustice and disregard of the authorities for a situation that goes against basic human rights. Giuseppe’s speech is touching, so we want to report it in full, hoping it will help bring attention to the problem.

giuseppe scianna
Çerman inside his small car wash. He lost his house entirely. Now his job is at risk because the car wash’s structure is not in perfect condition, but he cannot give up his job because of the big crisis. The monthly state aid is very little and does not guarantee meals every day.

People are psychologically broken in a precarious government situation. Monthly aid from the state does not guarantee a meal a day, also blamed on the drastically increased inflation of the Turkish lira. People continue uninterruptedly to salvage what is left of their homes, there is no more day and night due to the endless work of house demolition that amounts to about 300 thousand structures. There are endless expanses of debris fed by thousands of trucks that form veritable mountains of pulped houses. Many children have been traumatized by all this, many schools have collapsed and have been replaced by tents with many recreations because of the heat they give off. The government has sent the military engineer to inspect all structures that have apparently remained standing, but the tendency has been to underestimate the damage, this probably to reduce economic exposure regarding housing reconstruction grants. While everything is proceeding into an uncertain future, the people are responding with a great strength of humanity and sharing.

Giuseppe Scianna
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Giuseppe Scianna, Street scenes Serynol
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giuseppe scianna
Street Scenes. Ekinci 2023
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Detail of a kitchen. Tavla 2023.
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Boulem inspects the property of some residents in the village of Tavla.
He is a civil engineer from Adana who has volunteered to inspect many houses with suitable instruments to ascertain the fitness of the structures. There are many, indeed almost all, one- and two-storey single-family structures that have suffered visible damage, with more or less large cracks, to which the residents do not want to return, largely because they fear further tremors. The government has sent the military engineer to check but apparently the tendency has been to underestimate the damage, probably to reduce the economic exposure for reconstruction subsidies. Owners of condemned or heavily damaged structures will be reimbursed 60 per cent of the cost by the state, and the remaining 40 per cent will be eligible for a 20-year interest-free loan. Tavla 2023.
giuseppe scianna
Guys in Ekinci district
giuseppe scianna
giuseppe scianna
Sevcan inside her old room. She is a 39-year-old woman who lives in the Ekinci district inhabited by about 10,000 people located within the city of Antioch. This is the first time she has entered her room since that night of the earthquake to salvage what she could. Living with her family and two other sisters, she has now found accommodation in a tent not far from her old home.
giuseppe scianna
Two brothers embrace after feeling another earthquake tremor outside school
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giuseppe scianna
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Lunch inside an ironworks. Iron has become a much sought-after material for many people because it is considered very durable and safe. Large quantities are imported every day, especially from Adana and Istanbul, to meet the demands throughout Antioch. The owners work non-stop to meet the huge demand.

Ph credits and copyright Giuseppe Scianna

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The story of Ruth and Billie, a challenge against gender stereotypes

The story of Ruth and Billie, a challenge against gender stereotypes

Giorgia Massari · 5 days ago · Photography

Ruth and Billie is a photographic project that chronicles the lives of two post-adolescent siblings living in the province of Padua. Telling us about it is photographer and educationalist Claudia Deganutti, who will exhibit this same project at the Liquida Photofestival in Turin from May 2 to 5. Deganutti’s shots construct an intimate narrative that emphasizes the exploration of gender identity. Ruth and Billie are 22 and 19 years old, respectively, and are a clear example of Gen Z kids who are brave and open to self-knowledge. In particular, it is Billie who makes this exploration. Her body is feminine but not who she feels she is. The shots show Billie defying gender stereotypes by wearing ties and heeled shoes, revealing they uniqueness and determination to be themselves.

claudia deganutti

Claudia Deganutti’s shots are not distant. It is evident how the photographer has built a bond with the two subjects that has allowed her to capture authentic and meaningful moments. In a broader context, Claudia Deganutti’s project also reflects the cultural and social changes taking place in contemporary society. The LGBT+ issue and the normalization of neurodivergence are central themes, and through her photographs, Deganutti invites us to reflect on the need for acceptance and respect for all forms of diversity.

claudia deganutti
claudia deganutti
Billie
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claudia deganutti

Courtesy Claudia Deganutti

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