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26 January 2021

Silvia Rosi on her Getxophoto 2020 Show and the Importance of Exhibiting Your Work

26 January 2021 - Written by PHmuseum

The Italian photographer discusses her solo show at last year's Getxophoto, the result of a partnership between the Basque festival and PHmuseum that will be offered again to an applicant of the PHmuseum 2021 Photography Grant.

Silvia Rosi Open Air Exhibition at 2020 Getxophoto Festival

Over the years, our Grants Program has partnered with important photography festivals such as Cortona On The Move, Organ Vida, Verzasca FOTO, and PhEST to offer solo exhibitions to selected applicants. On the occasion of the PHmuseum 2020 Photography Grant, we had the opportunity to collaborate for the first time with Getxophoto, an organisation promoting photography in Getxo, Basque Country. The festival's Artistic Director Jon Uriarte awarded the prize to Silvia Rosi for her series Encounter and managed to take advantage of open-air exhibitions to answer the issues raised by the pandemic. In this interview, we get to know more about Silvia's experience and what it meant for her to exhibit in that context.

Ciao Silvia! Fortunately, the 2020 edition of Getxophoto went ahead as planned. How was it to collaborate with Jon Uriarte and the curatorial team of the festival?

It has been a nice collaborative process. I didn’t know Jon before and due to the pandemic, we had to work remotely and share ideas via email. Still, it was an easier process than I thought. The team was great, they understood the work I was making and were very sensitive in giving it the right interpretation and visibility. I feel very lucky to have been involved in this process.

Silvia Rosi Open Air Exhibition at 2020 Getxophoto Festival

Why is important to exhibit in physical locations now that online shows are becoming popular?

I find the online showcase very democratic. You don’t need to pay for a ticket or share a viewpoint with other people. You can see it on a laptop or iPhone screen, and enlarge it to catch more details in the image. You can decide how long you want to spend looking at work without the pressure of moving on to leave space for other viewers. On the other hand, you miss out on the quality of the print, on looking at it popping out of the surface of the paper which is to me quite emotional. You miss the experience of being present in that moment with other people that come to experience it too.

When I go to exhibitions I like to look at people, looking at the same works I’m looking at. Wondering what they are thinking and how their life experience shapes that moment of fruition. I look at them and I often feel like I’m missing out on something. So if I go with a friend I ask them what they think of the show, and that conversation makes me feel part of something.

Is the possibility of showcasing your work already affecting you while still in the process of producing work? And if yes, how?

Yes, it does. My latest body of work was a commission for a show at Jerwood Arts in January. The way I produced the work was highly influenced by the idea of displaying it in a specific space. I was making work that belonged to a certain reality, already thinking of how it could exist in a different one. I wanted to tell the audience a story that was relevant to me, bring it to them, to see if they would have liked to hear it. I think it’s been a positive challenge in away.

I often think about my work existing in a physical space, which can be a gallery as well as my bedroom walls. Thinking about the work being displayed online instead, makes you engage not only with ways in which you can lay it down for that specific platform but also about its fruition. Online viewers can see it quickly, flick through it on the train on their way to work. It feels like it has to catch their attention among the myriad of images appearing on their feed and that’s where having a relevant platform plays an important part, it creates engagement.

Silvia Rosi Open Air Exhibition at 2020 Getxophoto Festival

What are your next steps for your artistic career/projects? And what advice would you give to someone applying to our Grant?

I’m looking to expand my latest body of work in the next year or so, but I’m also thinking to start a pottery studio in my shed at home. I’m spending some time in Italy which is a place I reference a lot in my practice. I’ve always made work about the places of my childhood while living abroad, and I’m curious to see how it will evolve while living home. It’s also a way to understand if the distance is a relevant aspect of the work.

My advice is to apply with a body of work you really feel strongly about, but it’s not completely resolved, something that can evolve while thinking of different ways of displaying it.

Silvia Rosi Open Air Exhibition at 2020 Getxophoto Festival

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The ninth edition of the PHmuseum Photography Grant is now open for submissions with a great range of prizes and the support of art organisations from across the world. Getxophoto will offer a new solo show to one work selected from our open call.You can take advantage of the discounted Early Bird Fee until 28 January at 11.59 pm (GMT). The final deadline is set for 18 February 2021. Learn more and apply at phmuseum.com/g21.

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