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Interviews with Deaf Photographers (IT)

Interviews with Deaf Photographers (IT)

With the support of the featured photographer, Daniele Le Rose, and the Siena School for Liberal Arts, we decided to complement the Deaf Eyes: Landscaping Sign Language exhibition with short interviews with the Deaf photographers and amateur photographers on show. These are the questions we asked them:

Is it important to preserve and pass on Deaf Culture?

Do you know of museums of Deaf Culture where you would like to exhibit your work?

Can museums not dedicated to Deaf Culture, such as the one in Murlo, for example, be effective in giving visibility to Deaf Art Culture?

Can you talk about Photography from a Deaf point of view?

All interviews in Italian Sign Language (LIS) or spoken Italian, with English Transcripts.

Daniele Le Rose

Transcript:

Hello everyone, I am Daniele Le Rose, my passion is black and white.

I will explain why: we are immersed every day in a color reality. The black and white model is encountered more rarely and it pushes me to a reflection on space and time, it makes me understand the value of life, understand the values of the past and so proceed towards the future. In black and white photography, contrast is strong; it is a fundamental aspect. Oblique framing can stimulate our perception in following the tilt of planes or interpreting the image as static. In photographic composition there are some main elements: lines, curves and others that create my style.

In the photo exhibition "Emotional Perspectives through the Eyes" we find three sections.

The first one is dedicated to Deaf Culture and Sign Language, then life within society from the perspective of communication and the new generation. The second is the Vintage section, a reflection on art forms in time and space. The third is a composition of ll photos: the construction of a story, a life path, the experience through which we can observe a starting point until the conquest of our goals.

If you are going to see the exhibition this is an opportunity to wish you a good visit!

Art, in all its forms, is essential to the World of the Deaf. Photography in particular brings out our imagery, our way of viewing reality. I believe it is essential for museums to welcome and support Deaf Culture. Promoting and popularizing the art of Deaf People also means opening up to the important European art context.

Mirko Torresani

Transcript:

Hello everyone, my name is Mirko, I am from Milan. It is important not only to preserve Deaf Culture, but to be able to tell about it. For me this is an opportunity to show hearing people our experiences, our suffering, our soul. We need to work together always, be collaborative, actively participate; exchanging experiences and experiences with other artists can improve our future.

Participating in this photographic exhibition was a wonderful experience: the careful organization of this event at the  Archaeological Museum of Murlo allowed for complete accessibility: providing a path with texts in Italian and LIS gave everyone the opportunity to enjoy the project: hearing, deaf, signers and oralists. This is true integration!

Breaking down all communication barriers is possible and this is what I desire.

Three things are needed to make a good photograph: mind, sight, and soul. It is the heart that suggests to me what to "capture" and when to take the photograph: that way my shot will be able to convey the passion of my soul. This is what is important, this is what I want and I will always work with this intent. Photography is my great passion.

Thank you all and congratulations to all participants.

Good light to everyone!

Maria Agatina Panebianco

Transcript:

In my opinion, it is really relevant that our Deaf Culture is passed down over time and with it the Sign Language, which is a language of a minority and is closely related to our culture and our community; it is a priceless heritage that we must take care of.

In Italy there are no Museums of Deaf Culture; I hope that the one on the territory of Siena is only the first, a model that other cities can take as an example. It is good that a Museum such as the one in Murlo, includes within it a specific itinerary on Deaf Culture: it certainly constitutes a chance for visibility.

The vast hearing public of the Museums is not aware of our Culture. ko this is an opportunity to make it naturally usable, to make visitors discover it and thus disseminate important information.

Our point of view in the art of photography is important. Leonardo Da Vinci said that the Deaf man was a "master" in painting, for no one could capture and represent movement as he did. In some ways, the same is true for photography. Of our senses, sight is the one we develop the most; we train it daily. Our deep ability to observe allows us to grasp shapes, colors and shades, thus enhancing a talent that we also express in photography.

Photography is a form of communication: we do not use words or signs: it is an image, therefore a direct, strong message.

Corrado Pegoretti

Transcript:

Hello everyone, I am Corrado Pegoretti, I live in Trento and I grew up with a passion for photography. I was selected to participate in this exhibition, what a pleasure!

The possibilities of preserving Deaf Culture and handing it down over time are key aspects. Photos, videos, films are all important tools to document and witness our History, from the past to the present day. I remember for example inside the Padua Institute that I attended, a collection of large black and white photographs of the Authority, of Magarotto: I think they are a way to honor our history and it is always important to be able to do that.

I don't know any museum realities about Deaf Culture. When I heard about this call, I think it's the first one dealing with it, I was intrigued and wanted to participate. The Archaeological Museum of Murlo, a historical museum then, opening up to a new experience by hosting this photographic exhibition is really a sign of openness, a different approach to culture and integration.

The opening of this exhibition will be really interesting.

I am Deaf, I attended an institute for the Deaf, but part of my schooling was also with hearing people. ko I was able to observe two different worlds, two different cultures.

And that also means using sight differently; we are able to "catch" much more with our eyes.

This exhibition will certainly be an enriching opportunity for everyone.

March 2022

Eleanora Rettori

Transcript:

My name is Eleonora.

I think it is important to share, to make known and especially to pass on the Deaf culture. it is interesting and inclusive, also you share thoughts, emotions and fears in this unknown world still in loll. ko I think it is very important, to pass on and to show...,

I know about the Mason Perkins Museum and especially I have noticed that Deaf art and art by Deaf artists is more visible and known abroad.

In my opinion, it is important that art becomes an excellent means of communication and maximum expression for us Deaf people, in the world, in Europe and, above all, also in Italy.

The museum's exhibition in Murlo I think is a very good opportunity to give visibility to us Deaf, to be able to express ourselves through art, and it would be nice if they would do it in as many municipalities as possible, in Italy, to also discover Italian places of culture, because our Deaf culture is also part of Italian culture.

Photography for us Deaf people is a great means of communication because we feel with our eyes, we see, we observe, and so communicating through images gives us maximum freedom of expression. There are sometimes details, which hearing people take for granted, but for us it is not so it is nice to let people see and understand this vision of ours.

March 2022

Gaetano Rallo

It is very important that Deaf Culture, which is often hidden, be handed down. Today there are many Deaf people in Italy and it is good that our Culture is spread.

Our art is not represented in museums. I want my photographs to be able to be exhibited, I want visibility, and I would like my Deaf colleagues' works to be usable as well. I would really like no one to back down! I want our art to be free, open and shared!

The experience of the Murlo Museum on Deaf Culture is very interesting - it is an important example. It would be nice if this event could be replicated in other cities, all over Italy.

I know many deaf people, friends, acquaintances, photographers, painters, sculptors, artists, and I would like them to gain visibility as well.

Photography with us is articulated through new points of view: not having access to the auditory channel, our visual attention is more developed, our ability to perceive images and details through the eyes is honed and immediate.

Bye!

March 2022

Marco Verni

Deaf Culture is important - I am part of this world, which is a mostly visual and emotionally rich environment.

I know of no museums of Deaf Culture. I wish there were some on the national territory! They could organize different exhibitions, not only photographic ones, and it would be valuable for our identity.

This exhibition that tells about our Culture, is essential: the (hearing) public will be able to immerse themselves in our art, receive information, see our works. It will be like an explosion of emotions! The world of the Deaf will finally have visibility.

This is a necessary signal. I hope it is just the beginning of a larger process.

Photography says so much about the way we observe reality, about our our sensitivity. The image is a strong response.

Our gaze is attentive. Through photography we can really bring out our culture.

March 2022

Quotes:

  • "Deaf people have always had a sense of their history as it was being passed down in stories told by generations of students walking in the hallways of their residential schools and by others who congregated in their clubs, ran associations, attended religious services, and played in sporting events.
    With these activities, the deaf community exhibited hallmarks of agency — an effort to maintain their social, cultural, and political autonomy amid intense pressure to conform as hearing, speaking people."
    BRIAN H. GREENWALD AND JOSEPH J. MURRAY, in: Sign Language Studies, Volume 17, Number 1, Fall 2016
  • "And yet, even within a large and, in many ways, traditional organization such as this (Trøndelag Folk Museum, Norway), the museum's encounter with Deaf culture contributed to profound changes and a process, still underway, which challenges our own understanding of what a museum is today, our role in society and our obligations towards more diverse audiences than those we had previously engaged or even recognized."
    Hanna Mellemsether, in:  Re-presenting Disability: Activism and Agency in the Museum, 2013
  • "It was only during the past decade that recognition of the importance of preserving Deaf history has emerged. In the main, Deaf heritage, culture and folklore has been passed down from generation to generation via the medium of sign language and fingerspelling. (..) It is also vital that the history of Deaf people is made available to future generations, especially Deaf schoolchildren as part of their history lessons."
    A. Murray Holmes,  in: Cruel Legacy, an introduction of Deaf people in history, by A.F. Dimmock, 1993
  • "The UN Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community”. This is based on the principle that citizens are not just consumers of cultural capital created by others; we have agency and the right to contribute through culture to the wider good of society."
    Source: A manifesto for museum learning and engagement
  • “Stories of disability are largely absent from museum displays. Where they appear, they often reflect deeply entrenched, negative attitudes towards physical and mental difference. Research reveals that museums don’t simply reflect attitudes; they are active in shaping conversations about difference.
    Projects created with disabled people show that museums hold enormous potential to shape more progressive, accurate and respectful ways of understanding human diversity. Why wouldn’t we take up this opportunity? ”
    Richard Sandell, co-director, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, University of Leicester
  • "Opening ourselves to the Deaf community, listening to and respecting them as co-creators and experts telling the stories they want told, makes our practice richer, and has ongoing positive effects for the community.
    These embryonic relationships hopefully encourage Deaf people to feel welcome in our space — it’s their space too.
    For both side, communities and museum professionals, while genuinely, openly and truly committing to working together can be time-consuming, it repays any investment many-fold."
    Corinne Ball: Expressing ourselves’: creating a Deaf exhibition", 2020
  • the past can hurt

    From: Walt Disney, The Lion King

  • “If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.”
    Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight
  • "Histories have for too long emphasized the controversies over communication methods and the accomplishments of hearing people in the education of deaf students, with inadequate attention paid to those deaf individuals who created communication bridges and distinguished themselves as change agents in their respective field of endeavour."
    from: Harry G. Lang, Bonny Meath-Lang: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences, 1995
  • "Inclusion is moving from “we tolerate your presence” to “we WANT you here with us”.
    Jillian Enright in The Social Model of Disability, 2021
  • "Access to and participation in culture is a basic human right. Everyone has a right to representation and agency in museums, and communities should have the power to decide how they engage."
    Source: A manifesto for museum learning and engagement
  • "Museums can increase our sense of wellbeing, help us feel proud of where we have come from, and inspire, challenge and stimulate us."
    Source: https://www.museumsassociation.org/campaigns/museums-change-lives/
  • "An important matter for any minority group is that written documents in public archives are often drawn up by the majority group and do not always reflect a minority as it sees itself. Thus, preserving sign language narration is of the utmost importance and a challenge to those working in the field of Deaf history."
    In: TIINA NAUKKARINEN, Finnish Museum of the Deaf: Presenting the Life of Carl Oscar Malm (1826–1863)
  • "The most significant function of museums is as centres for cultural democracy, where children and adults learn through practical experience that we all have cultural rights. Having the opportunity to create, and to give to others, may be one of our greatest sources of fulfilment. Culture is everywhere and is created by everyone."
    Source: A manifesto for museum learning and engagement
  • "This (Deaf) Museum is not intended as a casual show, to be seen once and forgotten. Its pretensions are nobler; it has a humanitarian aim. By its solid and tangible evidences, making history memorable and attractive by illustration, it serves a double purpose: to dispel ignorance and prejudice regarding the deaf, and to raise the victims of this prejudice and ignorance to their true level in society."
    The British Deaf Monthly, Vol. VI (p.265) 1897. In: Deaf Museums and Archival Centres, 2006
  • "Beyond works of art and objects, museums collect shared heritage, memories and living cultures as well as what we call intangible collectables."
    Source: We are Museums
  • "What has become clear is that museums don’t just function as custodians of the past anymore; instead, they have embraced their responsibility towards the communities of the present: a responsibility to represent them, to speak to them, and to be open to dialogue with them."
    Tim Deakin, August 2021
  • "After all, we are all of us explorers, and we all have much to bring to each other from our own
    journeyings."
    Ladd, P. (2003). Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood.
  • "As recently as the 1970s, deaf history did not exist. There were available sketches of various hearing men, primarily teachers, who were credited with bringing knowledge and enlightenment to generations of deaf children, but deaf adults were absent."

    In: Preface to: "Deaf History Unvailed, Interpretations from the New Scholarship". John Vickrey van Cleve, editor
    Publisher: Gallaudet University Press, 1993
  • "Museums can increase our sense of wellbeing, help us feel proud of where we have come from, and inspire, challenge and stimulate us."
    Source: Museums Change Lives
  • “One story makes you weak. But as soon as we have one-hundred stories, you will be strong.”
    Chris Cleave in "Little Bee", 2008
  • "For many members of the Deaf community their shared history is both personal and social. Deaf people will have gone to the same school, in many cases boarding schools where most of their younger lives will have been spent together, and then met again at their Deaf clubs, Deaf social events, reunions and other more personal events.
    One of the first things a Deaf person will often ask on meeting, before asking your name, is what school or Deaf club you go to. Making this connection is an important part of any greeting, as it will then help an individual to understand what shared history or people in common you may have."
    from: The Cultural Model of Deafness
  • "Until the fall semester of 1986, the history department at Gallaudet University had never before offered a course in the history of deaf people.
    In the 122 years, to that point, since the founding of the university, which was specifically intended for the education of deaf peoples, no one had ever taught a course about this very group of people.
    In all of those years the history department had offered courses on a wide range of topics but never deaf history. "
    ENNIS, WILLIAM T., et al. “A Conversation: Looking Back on 25 Years of A Place of Their Own.” Sign Language Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, 2016, pp. 26–41. 
  • "Nina Simon has described true inclusion in a museum context as occurring when museums value the diversity in their audience, value those individuals’ potential and contributions, when they actively link those diverse people across differences, and when the organisation reaches out with generosity and curiosity at the core.
    On a practical level this sort of museum practice would see widespread inclusion of people with disabilities in the planning of museum exhibitions, on museum boards and steering committees, and working in curatorial roles."
    In: Corinne Ball: Expressing Ourselves, 2020
  • "The Deaf community is international. What binds Deaf people, despite their different national sign languages, is their shared visual communication, history, cultural activities, and the need for a Deaf “space” where people come together."

    from: The Cultural Model of Deafness
  • "The Finnish Museum of the Deaf) was founded by deaf people, and, thus, its task has been to strengthen their identity and historical communality.

    Most of our materials have a connection to the key experiences that generations of deaf people have shared. These are important in understanding the past and keeping the collective memory alive."
    In: TIINA NAUKKARINEN, Finnish Museum of the Deaf: Presenting the Life of Carl Oscar Malm (1826–1863)
  • "Deaf mute, deaf and dumb, hearing impaired – the choices are many and not without consequences. Words have many meanings, they convey attitudes and prejudices and may hurt, even when used in a well-intended context."
    Hanna Mellemsether, in:  Re-presenting Disability: Activism and Agency in the Museum, 2013