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Posing for the Future

While waiting to pick up prints at a photo studio in Gulu, Uganda, photographer Martina Bacigalupo noticed in the trash a number of printed portraits with missing heads.

She soon discovered that the clients of Denis Obal’s photo studio could not afford the four photo IDs that machines printed, so he devised a tool to cut the faces that they needed for their documents out of wider frames, throwing away the rest. Martina Bacigalupo collected those leftovers for two years, coming back to the studio and interviewing Obal’s clients. She asked about their reasons to get an ID, and this opened a door onto their life stories, often much harder than their calm demeanour would suggest.

As people pose for photographs that are meant to quintessentially represent them, this collection reminds us of what’s left out every time we frame a photograph. Family ties, body language and a charming style gracefully speak about the fast-changing society of the once-small town of Gulu. Silent witness of this change is an oversized blue jacket worn by all of the photo studio’s customers who need it, for instance, to get the photo that will allow them to open a bank account.

The Exhibition “Gulu Real Art Studio” is on view at
Cortona on the Move
until October 2. The homonymous book is published by
and available at the price of 38 Euro.

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