Thursday, 12:00pm
16 November 2017

Seeing double

An Italian duo combines illustrations with photographs for an exhibition that questions the authenticity of social media

‘Double Trouble’ is a collaboration between two Italian artists: the photographer and videographer Giacomo Favilla and graphic designer and illustrator Valeria Crociata, writes Lindsay Hargrave.

The exhibition seeks to explore the idea of the face that one shows the world, particularly through to social media, and the level of authenticity involved in constructing it. At first glance, the photos are undoubtedly funny. From the subjects’ absurd facial expressions – the artists distorted their faces with strong bursts of air – to the seemingly random graphics superimposed over them, which only add to the drama, right down to the whimsical way they are all dressed, each piece screams fun and looks as if it is not meant to be taken seriously. True, they are funny, but upon deeper investigation, the work’s more cynical underpinnings become clear.

Installation view at London’s The Book Club. Author’s photo.
Top: For this series entitled ‘Double Trouble’, the artists temporarily distorted their subjects’ faces with a blast of air.

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While the subjects and overlaid work all vary greatly in design and pose, the eyes and mouths of each all receive special attention. No subject’s vision is left unobscured, giving the artists the greatest amount of control over the emotions and meaning created. From their mouths, we see various shapes and lines protruding like tongues, stars or snowflakes.

The design itself is flat, bold and sharp against the photographs. The colours serve a specific purpose against the white backdrop and within the simple black frames: they are there to stand out. There is a strong emphasis on circles and curved lines. Otherwise, an abundance of geometric shapes and straight lines abound in all their flat glory, and in sharp contrast to the photographic images.

By juxtaposing artificial elements over already inauthentic versions of the subjects, Favilla and Crociata question the idea of public identity and ‘personal branding’ that comes with social media culture. The artists have created new, bizarre expressions for each subject, subverting the global digital culture that allows us to craft our public images.

Lindsay Hargrave, Eye intern and journalism student at Temple University, Philadelphia

From Valeria Crociata and Giacomo Favilla’s series ‘Double Trouble’, 2017.

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