Bacigalupo, Martina


Italian, b. 1978; lives and works in Burundi


Identity portraits are crucial for the citizens of Gulu, Uganda, where more than half of the population has been displaced by ongoing conflict. At the Gulu Real Art Studio, photographer Obal Denis made the standardized ID pictures required for job applications and other bureaucratic forms by cutting the client's face out of a full-length portrait and discarding the remainder of the print. In January 2011, Martina Bacigalupo, a photojournalist based in East Africa, began to collect Denis's thrown-away, faceless images. They represent nurses, soldiers, farmers, teachers, businessmen, students, mothers, children, the young, and the old—a cross section of Gulu's society. However, devoid of faces, these images are completely unlike conventional portraits. Distinctions are established through pose, clothing, and self-definition, or in recurring motifs, such as the blue jacket required for bank applications. The cutouts heighten attention to gesture and detail, while the uniformity of the background provides a comparative study of a society during a specific moment of economic and political transition.

Artworks by Bacigalupo, Martina

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more.