Giulia Bersani is a 24 year old photographer from Milano who expresses with total freedom her fears and desires. Looking at her works is like reading her secret diary or watching a documentary film about her life with friends. On November 22nd she presented her new self-published photography book, called 23, at Blanka Studio in Milano. With this project she is telling us everything about her life at the age of 23: parties, lovers, trips and friends. Through her point of view we see other people’s feelings and lifes depicted with authentic respect and purity.
Your book 23 has released and it’s all about your life at the age of 23. Why did you choose this specific year of your life to tell the world about it?
It has been a special year for me. For the first time since I was 15 I was feeling really good about myself and that made me appreciate much more my friends company.
Two years ago you published with 21, a book of honest self-portraits that depicts your everyday life at age 21, including the most quiet moments. With 23 the story has changed. The photos tell way more: dynamism, runs, travels and friends. Is this storytelling choice reflecting a bigger internal change in yourself?
Yes, I changed a lot this last year. My insecurity vanished for some months, especially during the summer period, and I felt a particularly strong needing of freedom. I had a lot of life opportunities such as travelling, making new friends, coming upon old friends and partying, new lovers… And I always had my little camera with me. Also the way I took photos changed a lot. I was used to a manual reflex with a 50mm lens and I never used any flash. Last spring I bought a point and shoot camera for a job and I would have never imagined I’d appreciate it so much. That raw language became perfect for catching some very fast moments full of life.
23 ends with a really significant picture of yourself in bed, with eyes closed, as everything we have just seen in the book was just a dream. What’s the meaning you attribute to this choice?
I think it’s connected to my main obsession: death. The more I feel alive, the more I’m scared by the idea of dying, in the end.
Shooting only with an analog camera, has it ever happened to you that you have seen a perfect moment to capture but eventually the film has betrayed you and the picture had to be thrown away?
Yes, It happens all the time. At the same time there are also some good surprises if you keep your mind opened. Film can add something unexpected and give a new meaning to some images.
When you are shooting somebody you’re depicting their story and intimate moments. How do you manage to get into such a personal world? It seems like you become some kind of an invisible voyeur.
The point is that I’m not invisible, I’m just a close friend for most of the subjects of this book. I have a little camera in my hand but they see me as a party companion more than as a photographer.
Some of your photos remind me of Larry Clark’s photography, because of the point of view and the subjects you choose to portrait, taking out the explicit violence and adding a more poetic aura. Was his work a source of inspiration of any kind for you?
Yes, you guessed right. Gummo is my favorite movie and I love his work, both with photography and cinema.
Your past books Lovers, Lovers II and Vietato lamentarsi, vietato pensare, vietato piangere sold out in a couple of months. The special thing about your books is that you curate everything: from the layout, to the intro and the hand-written title. Why do you choose to do it all yourself?
To be honest it’s really basic for me, it’s not a refined choice. I see hand-writing and hand-making as the simplest way to create a book. Theoretically you don’t need a computer, a graphic program, a printer, a publisher etc. When I was a child I created some books just cutting paper and writing with a pen. I often take my own childhood as a reference point.
In 23 you have paired the pictures and double every page is telling about a specific moment. Which one is the most intense of the book to you? And which one you think you managed to express it better?
It’s a hard decision. Personally my favorite double page is the one which tells about me, a bit drunk, going with my friend Marta, much more drunk, to pee in the grass. She was so funny, holding some plants trying not to fall down, that I took her some pictures. I also like the double page where I’m in bed with Julius, a german guy I had a crush on.