Italian photographer Martina Cirese gravitated in the direction of Berlin for its singular brand of heedlessness. Chasing a sensation of daring launch, she commenced frequenting the city’s “most kinky and transgressive” intercourse clubs and meditating on strategies of detachment and motivation. Martina became fascinated with polyamory and hedonistic society, channeling this fervency into personal photoshoots with good friends and fans. In her ongoing series Silence is Captivating — which began in Berlin from 2015-2016 — nudes are paired with visuals of flora or anonymous interiors, and excerpts from the photographer’s own diaries that map her personal coming-of-age journey. Martina relocated from Berlin to Paris in 2017, but she continued shooting Silence is Attractive, shifting the concept from kink culture to rethinking the gaze. In 2020, the sequence received the Jury’s Decision in France’s Prix Virginia images contest.
New off doing work in the isolated woods of Umbria in central Italy — and before travelling to choose underwater portraits in the Dodecanese Islands in Greece — Martina tells us about the evolution of Silence is Captivating, geo-localised attitudes about intercourse, voyeurism and the watering down of kink culture.
What built you make a decision to pursue photography? Did you occur from a creative relatives? I have normally taken pictures — I have dozens of snapshot albums from my overall adolescence in my bookshelves! My mothers and fathers were journalists they’re now retired. My father attracts tirelessly and my mother writes novels nonstop. My grandmother was a painter and my grandfather was an anthropologist. I acquired every thing from them: passion for analysis, obsession, perseverance.
I felt the want to abide by two paths: to get a diploma (in modern history) and to cultivate my inventive passions. I shuttled again and forth in the San Lorenzo district of Rome, having historical past programs in the early morning and pictures classes in the evening, where by I met qualified photographers for the initial time. I thought: my lifetime in images is attainable! I can have it far too!
**Which photographers initial impacted you?
**After I’d remaining Rome in 2011 and was finishing my Masters at La Sorbonne in Paris, I expended several hours at La Chambre Claire, a photography bookshop, the place I became bewitched by Fifty percent Everyday living by Michael Ackerman, Mala Noche by Antoine D’Agata and Café Lehmitz by Anders Petersen.
How has Silence is Attractive developed considering the fact that you began it 6 a long time ago?The series was born for the duration of my discovery of Berlin nightlife in 2015-2016. From November 2017 onwards, when I decided to go away Berlin for Paris, everything transformed. I opened my investigate to other concerns beyond sexuality. The factors that remain present are surely the overall body, the portrait and a continual, obsessive investigation into associations — but beginning from queries about want. The get the job done is still in progress. Each graphic is forced to dialogue with the other, alternating bodies and landscapes. It is composed of textual content, images and drawings… I just began my 18th journal.
You are from Italy, put in time in Berlin, and now dwell in Paris… Did you observe any markedly distinct attitudes in the direction of sexuality regionally? What shocked you, challenged you or let down you? The Rome in which I grew up — in the faculties and universities of the middle — is very regular about sexuality, and with the relationship to the overall body and wants. The paradigm of the heterosexual couple in an special and monogamous longterm connection is dominant. There are definitely some Roman communities that problem this, but they’re uncommon and difficult to come across.
Paris has normally appeared related to Rome. I was upset by Parisian elitism and classism. To explore an choice social dimension, you usually have to be invited to non-public spots as a result of the suitable connections. If there’s an entrance value, it is much too high, or the address stays key till the past minute… the perception of ponder and intuition are generally hindered, and experiences do not circulation. This selective dynamic radically slows down [sexual] experimentation.
I was amazed by Berlin’s nightlife, with its hedonistic and Dionysian partying open to all types and ages: available, welcoming, transversal. The obstacle for me was to let go — opening myself to encounters that could problem the cultural construction I was formed by.
To photograph topics in a context of raw intimacy, how do you negotiate boundaries, or play with them? I spend several hours talking, drinking and using tobacco with my subjects right before I start out taking pictures. I open up to start with and speak about the factors that bring in and disturb me the most. I drive the other to respond, to give me tales, to share dreams and wounds. After I choose the camera in hand, I come to a decision nothing at all I wait for occasions to happen, I appear for an instinctive move dependent on the encounter among bodies.
**Would you say you choose satisfaction from a variety of voyeurism?
**In order to create, I have an immersive apply: live in a spot, integrate into the territory, be aspect of that natural environment. I want to explore — open up the doors to a particular practical experience that can change me. Pleasure will come from associations with folks and from sharing an practical experience. I am searching for an experience [that can] guide to a adjust of point of view.
As a witness to others’ intimacy, I observed and, at the identical time, I was portion of the sport. Does any photographer observe and enter the earth without having participating in some kind of voyeurism?
In the text accompanying your series, you mention emotion “ambivalence” — could you increase on this? My initially yr in Berlin, 2015, coincided with a disaster in a very long sentimental romance, a person that experienced structured my emotional, relational and creative universe up to that instant. Involving the finish of an unique and visceral marriage, and the starting of a series of new encounters that ended up groundbreaking for me, I knowledgeable the ambivalent type that wish can acquire. These diametrically opposed impulses turned the foundation of this get the job done.
**How has the discussion all-around kink modified because you commenced this collection?
**When I found this different dimension of sexuality in Berlin in 2015, getting any sort of shots inside of nightclubs was forbidden. To understand a thing, you had to talk to men and women, dwell the minute, breathe the ambiance and also respect the regulations. Currently, there are the official photographers of Berlin clubs who publish the photographs on Instagram with the hashtag #kink… every little thing has been manipulated to offer and consume.
Which photographers do you experience portray kink or fetish in an interesting way? Kohei Yushiyuki’s The Park, from the 70s. In his photographs of voyeurs, at evening in Tokyo’s Chuo Park, I feel all the emotional complexity that is unleashed in the most intimate associations: kink, S&M, fetish. There is motivation, adrenaline, video game and ritual, but also a whole lot of vulnerability, loneliness and despair.
**Would you say most depictions discovering kink are still dominated by the male gaze?
**Of course, whilst Susan Meiselas’ Pandora’s Box arrives to thoughts as a woman interpretation of fetish, bringing us into a large-course Manhattan S&M club in the 90s.
**How does the title encapsulate the sequence?
**Silence is Attractive is a operating title… It is taken from Einstürzende Neubauten, a historic German experimental songs group. This hypnotic rhythm of Blixa Bargeld’s voice, the contradicting terms, the pauses, accompanied me for the duration of rigorous, distressing, central moments in my early Berlin yrs. I associate silence with the expertise of soreness and isolation, but also with the wrestle to make new connections.