Gabriella D’Italia lives and works in Newburgh, Maine. The Bell School. Female Background.
Finding female background is like finding anything else, it requires moving out of view all of the things that are not female background. In the case of this subject however, it is hardly a subject in the usual sense. It is by nature the things that would be moved out of view, that fall away when one intends to focus his mind, his vision.
None-the-less if one had a collection of photographs and were asked, as in a police line-up, to identify the ones that partake of female background and the ones that do not, that task can be done. Then the answer to the question, what identifies these images as such is surely there, and so female background, like any other subject can be found, can be separated from a background that must be peculiar to it. A background that might be called foreground.
For one thing there are dogs, and usually more than one. There are often more than one woman and these groups or couples are usually very alike in dress, manner, physicality – it would be best if they were all twins or at least sisters. They are probably not facing the camera, even turning their backs on anyone who might look at them, or wearing a mask, or just closing their eyes. Sometimes they are camouflaged. (Sometimes the bandaid on the knee is similar to the color of the flesh and also to the color of the skirt). So like their surroundings they can barely be distinguished from the trees, the furniture, each other, so much so that sometimes they are invisible altogether. All that can be seen is a landscape: trees or buildings, very uniform and very still. Sometimes you are in the middle of a city and there are narrow paths that turn corners and lead to curved doorways and small alleys; you are always inside, but there is always something you can’t quite see or understand, but the suggestion that it exists is there Sometimes, when an activity can be glimpsed, it excludes you. It is between the sisters; it is their secret, but not purposefully
obscure, you just wouldn’t understand. Mostly because it is not for the understanding and that is something you don’t understand.
Hips thrust sharply forward.
Kneeling behind a table, forehead pressed against it.
Hanging over a rail.
In a tub – not infrequently.
Jumping into the air, more shadow left behind than legs and skirt and shoes.
Behind a veil of smoke of birds of paint of lace of feathers of leaves.
On the telephone.
Lounging on blankets in the grass among many.
You might mistake this action for inaction because it is not for something; it is quite indifferent to purpose. There is repetitive action visible in still objects: pleating, braiding, and lace. Maybe it is protecting itself with thorns and horns.
If someone were to look straight at it, it would cease to be background.
It must be approached like a wild animal: sidle up, avert your gaze, and be quiet.