Artist Talk with Melissa Ianniello

Saturday, December 10 | 10:00 AM

Artist Talk with Melissa Ianniello

Vittorio Panzani, 78 years old, and William Belli, 71 years old, Trent, Trentino-South Tyrol, 2018, 18”x24” Digital Print

Melissa Ianniello: Wish it Was a Coming Out

Artist Talk | Join us for a conversation with Italian artist Melissa Ianniello! Moderated by Giulia Angeli and Zoe Cinel. 

Topic: Virtual Artist Talk - Melissa Ianniello: Wish it Was a Coming Out

Time: Dec 10, 2022 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 812 2776 0594

Passcode: 945664

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About the Exhibition 

Rochester Art Center, Main Gallery West, August 3, 2022 - January 29, 2023

The Rochester Art Center in partnership with the Italian Cultural Center of Minneapolis/St. Paul presents a solo exhibition of photographs and interviews created by Italian artist Melissa Ianniello (b. 1991, Naples, Italy). Produced over the last four years, and starting from the artist’s own journey as a lesbian in Italy, the ongoing series Wish it Was a Coming Out, investigates the taboo of being older and gay in Italy, a country with a history and a culture deeply rooted in religious and traditional beliefs.

In this exhibition, the stories of gay men and lesbian women between sixty and ninety years old unfold through sixteen intimate portraits and six large scale photographs of the interviewees' homes. To accompany, excerpts from the interviews conducted by the artist, and translated for an English-speaking audience, bring to light the stories of a marginalized community whose complex and relatable narratives have been systematically erased from the mainstream media.

Through the lens of tenderness and care, Melissa Ianniello: Wish it Was a Coming Out addresses themes that are universally relevant: from self-determination to gay/lesbian love, from the representation of affection in advanced age to the honest portrayal of grief, loneliness and death. By bringing these stories to light, Ianniello encourages us to look with compassion at our own humanity in an attempt to celebrate love in its purest form.

This exhibition is a collaboration between the Rochester Art Center and the Italian Cultural Center of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Curated by Zoe Cinel, Curator at the Rochester Art Center, with an introductory essay by Giulia Angeli, Art Historian based in Florence, Italy.

About the Artist

Melissa Ianniello (Naples, 1991) is an Italian documentary photographer based in Bologna, Italy. After completing her undergraduate studies in Philosophy at Alma Mater Studiorum–Università di Bologna (Italy), she studied documentary photography at Spazio Labo’ in Bologna. Through an exchange program she attended the “Photo Workshop New York”, in Brooklyn and visited the US for the first time. In 2020 she was selected to participate in the XXXIII Virtual Eddie Adams Workshop, a merit-based four-day photojournalism seminar in upstate New York.

Her artistic research focuses on themes related to gender, sexuality, and identity, as shown by projects such as Wish it Was a Coming Out (2018-now). Inspired by the artist’s personal experience of not sharing with her grandparents she was lesbian, this ongoing photo documentation and interview series explorevarious aspects of the life of older homosexual Italians and the social stigma they face.

Her photographs have been exhibited at SI FEST Savignano Immagini Festival, Helsinki Photo Festival, Photoville Fence and PHOTO IS:RAEL and they have been published by internationally renowned publications and platforms such as The Guardian, Spiegel Wissen, Internazionale, L-Mag, Are We Europe, L'Oeil de la Photographie, Medfeminiswiya and Q Code Magazine. Ianniello is also the recipient of several awards including the first edition of the Biennale della Fotografia Femminile and the John White Keep In Flight Award. She was a finalist for the Pesaresi Prize (2018) and, above all, for the W. Eugene Smith Grant (2020).