We first discovered Maria Clara Macrì through social media. We are always looking to get different perspectives from around the world and were excited to see this work coming out of Reggio Emillia, Italy. We were particularirly drawn to Maria's raw and honest work and loved getting her perspective on Feminism, gender, nudity, and art. She is an advocate for body positivity and is very driven in her studies and observations regarding the roles gender, sensuality and nature play in our lives. We also love her photography.
MDLF : What is your full name and where are you from?
I'm Maria Clara Macrì and I'm from Italy, Reggio Emilia.
MDLF : Tell us about your upbringing and your journey leading up to your research about gender?
MCM : At the age of eighteen I moved to Bologna to study Contemporary History in which I’m graduated, then, after a period of traveling around Asia, I moved to London for two years, then Napoli for three years, and now I’m back in my hometown.
When I was a teenager I started writing short stories about woman, sisterhood, and sexuality, as a self-analysis of my personal feelings, because I was and I am attracted to men and women. During my studies in the universities, I started to do personal research about gender and sexualities, focusing not only on the history of the Feminist and Women movements but also on a more philosophical and literary approach, from Simone de Behaviour to Virginia Woolf and so on.
MDLF : Was this when you first discovered photography?
MCM: Yes. I discovered my interest in photography, using my friends cameras, as I didn’t have one and the phones were just only telephones. Two months before I moved to London, I finally received my first Nikon as a present.
I quickly understood that the medium of my research could be photography, the perfect link to analyze myself and society in a concrete way.
MDLF : Why do you photograph women and what is your creative process or approach?
MCM : I started stopping strangers in the street, mostly girls, on the bases of my emphatic intuitions, asking them if they wanted to help me in my research about the genderless expression and way of life. During the first shooting sessions I started speaking with them about my research and my opinions on the liberation of our bodies outside the gender limits. I told them to be free to express themselves in the most natural way, as it was our timeless space in which to be completely wild, to re-discover that natural and pure energy that is inside us all, the masculine and feminine. I do this kind of liberation process every time I shoot, for me and for my subjects. When my subjects are naked, I’m naked too, and often I let them shoot me as well, because I believe that if I want their real natural expression, I also must be able to give my truest self.
MDLF : A lot of people feel that nudity is always sexualised. Can you tell me a little bit more about the nudity in these series? (But, who cares what people think, right?)
MCM : I don’t sexualise nudity, I believe nudity is the truth, naked we are all the same and all different, it is a principle of equality. There is nothing more banal and at the same time mysterious and magical than our naked bodies. Sensuality is a big part in my photography because I try to find a gender-less expression of the sensuality, it means that natural sensuality does not come from the main stream idealology, pornography, or the machismo point of view - which easily contaminates our expressions - the sensuality that comes from nature, is the same sensuality of flowers and plants.
MDLF : When did you have your first feminist awakening?
MCM : When I was taking my photography-portraits sessions I realised more clearly what I’m really looking for and what Feminism means for me now.
MDLF : How does Masculine de La FEMME correlate with this project and what does feminism mean to you now?
MCM : History has shown that the Feminist movement fought to obtain civil and equal rights, and even now we still need to fight to make our rights a reality and to be fully respected. We now have another mission, to openly comunicate our natural, instinctive, internal and external feelings. We must create a new culture together, masculine and feminine, with every kind of sexual orientation. We first need to remind ourselves and secondly to the others, that we are part of the natural evolution of life. Nature is part of us, so we need to respect each others diferences in every aspect exactly in the same way that we understand and respect Nature.
It is important for me to go outside gender limits, because gender is what society and culture created. Up until now, society and the culture were mostly dominated by mentalities based on relationship of [physical] strength.
As feminine we see that life not as a strength relationship between us and the nature, but as creation/creativity, sharing and care, this it means equality, respect and collaboration. I want to believe that this seed is in everyone. It just has to be discovered or heard.
MDLF : Are you spiritual and would you consider yourself traditional? Why or why not?
MCM : I'm not religious, but I believe in the energy and chemistry that comes from Nature. I believe in the Moon and the Sun, in the stars and the plants. Nothing in me is traditional, I choose to live my life celebrating every day, naturally, having time to do it and to create, to find the language and the imaginary in which translate what I think and dream, having time to talk with strangers, communicate, contemplate the beauty of womanhood and humanity, and feel my self in the circle of life, so my priorities are not the traditional priorities.
MDLF : What's next on the roadmap?
MCM : I started taking photos of strangers, I call Muses, with a digital sony alpha 7 and the Instax Fujifilm, and starting this summer I shoot on film, with my Olympus Mju, and Contax ST 35 mm. This summer I decided to spend most of my time naked to experiment on my skin the wild sense of freedom I would like to find in my subjects. So, I went to the wild beaches in Italy with my friends and photographed this beautiful experience of one week completely naked. For every liberation portrait studio session at home I take some Instax, here is a selection of Instax of the most important and impressive shooting session I did with those muses.
My next plan is to continue my research, which means finding new strangers who are gender fluid but shooting them in their home or different location rather than at my home/studio.
Credits : Film & Digital Images by Maria Clara Macrì | Interview by Masculine de La FEMME