Federica Chiocchetti, Linguivore Species 23.05. – 02.06.2019 | online


This essay explores the complex issue of violence against women through two photo-text books of fairly distant epochs that deal with different types of violence, from verbal abuse to murder: Un album di violenza (An Album of Violence) by Rome-based American artist and political activist Stephanie Oursler, who passed away last summer, published in 1976 by the pioneering Edizioni delle donne (Women’s Editions); and (More Than) Dust by San Francisco-based visual artist and poet Jamie Oliveira, self-published thanks to a Kickstarter campaign exactly 40 years after. This research has been contaminating subsequent projects of mine, and has been, in turn, contaminated by them, from its initial conception for the Parisian conference The Committed Phototext (June 2018), to the current version, edited in response to SITUATIONS/Photo Text Data.

Between the intense days of the conference and this text almost a year has passed, during which, among other activities, I was lucky to organise a panel discussion at the Photographers’ Gallery in London at the end of September, entitled Photography & Gender Dynamics post #MeToo. The aim was also to go beyond the viral surface of the #MeToo movement, whose undeniable importance has nonetheless been somewhat obfuscated by a sort of white western Hollywoodian ‘spectacularization’, which conceals serious privilege and postcolonial issues that need to be addressed, as Tarana Burke, the real founder of the Me Too movement more than a decade ago, has remarked in recent public appearances. During the conference artist and poet Khairani Barokka reminded us of the hidden and dangerous links between feminism, women’s rights and capitalism. She made us reflect on a seemingly innocent object: red lipstick. First it had to be reclaimed as a feminist symbol for women’s emancipation, through the deconstruction of all the ‘sexualised’ connotations implicit in images of femmes fatales that circulated with fashion photography, advertising and Hollywood. And even beyond these political issues of representation, Khairani reminded us of the invisible layers of violence against women a red lipstick conceals, which are lurking behind palm oil, almost always contained in any lipstick, given that the product’s international trade and plantation business in Khairani’s country of origins, Java (Indonesia), not only entails appalling labour conditions for women, but also causes the negative externality of sexual abuses against female villagers. [1]

After multiple iterations, I have the impression that this text is imposing itself as an open work in progress, with hyperlinks for further explorations, also because, despite any wish for optimism, I doubt that violence against women will cease once and for all during my lifetime. But what can evolve for the better are systems of resistance and healing and I wish to think that I will return to this text periodically in the future with good news. The United Nations’ 1994 appointment of a “Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences”, the introduction of a femicide rate to be monitored and hopefully eradicated over time, and the spread of initiatives and movements such as Ferite a Morte (Blessed to Death) and #MeToo, which, in some cases, triggered the removal of perpetrators from their positions because of the unanimous social condemnation of their acts, are important steps in this direction. [2]

While I was editing a previous version of this text, on 25 November 2018, I realised it was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a day officialised by the UN in 1999 in memory of the Mirabal sisters, Dominican revolutionary activists who opposed Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorship and were assassinated on 25 November 1960. [3] It felt both solemn and disturbing. I felt overwhelmed by the relevance and urgency of the topic and I could not stop thinking about the alarming current statistics that are circulating both in the official institutional records and in the news internationally. [4] I was reading Rebecca Solnit’s seminal book Men Explain Things to Me (2014), and the feeling of impotence, together with the awareness of my white western privilege, grew deeper when my eyes reached the paragraph on Middle Eastern countries “where women’s testimony has no legal standing: so that a woman can’t testify that she was raped without a male witness to counter the male rapist”. [5] If I add that I had just finished reading Francesco Pacifico’s novel Le donne amate (The Beloved Women, 2018), where a somewhat paranoid, intellectual and bourgeois protagonist confesses to have “accidentally” raped his ex-lover, my sense of repulsion and anger almost provoked a writer’s block. How can one even remotely conceive, albeit fictionally, the oxymoron of “accidental rape”? Who can get away with it? Clare Strand’s brilliant tower piece, included in SITUATIONS/Photo Text Data, provides the perfectly eloquent answer: “Men Only”!

Solnit stresses the importance of credibility as “a basic survival tool” against violence. In her chapter “Grandmother Spider” she writes:

“Some women get erased a little at a time, some all at once. Some reappear. Every woman who appears wrestles with the forces that would have her disappear. She struggles with the forces that would tell her story for her, or write her out of the story, the genealogy, the rights of man, the rule of law. The ability to tell your own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt.” [6]

In the fight for credibility, verbal and visual language play a fundamental role in order to react to these ineffably and gratuitously unjust acts of violence that are sadly still a deeply dark aspect of our everyday reality. Within criminal law, for instance, a crime needs to be officially reported, proven with evidence during the trial(s) and believed to be in deserving of punishment. Within institutional justice credibility and evidence are extremely intertwined. The slippery relationship between photography and truth, together with the spread of accessible image-manipulation software has questioned the medium’s very believability as evidence in courts, as Zachariah B. Parry explained in his 2009 paper “Digital Manipulation and Photographic Evidence: Defrauding the Courts One Thousand Words at a Time”. When it comes to artworks that deal with crimes and political issues the fragility of both visual and verbal languages acquires a further layer of meaning, besides their evidential and forensic fragility, which has been brilliantly condensed in Martha Rosler’s experimental photo-text piece The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems (1974–75). By pairing images of the social reality of New York’s Bowery district, at the time an infamous haunt of alcoholics and vagabonds, with photos of texts related to drunkenness in playful and poetic ways, Rosler offers a conceptual and deadpan critique of the poverty of representation in political documentary. In the chapter entitled “Cassandra Among the Creeps”, Solnit points out that:

“Sexual assault, like torture, is an attack on a victim’s right to bodily integrity, to self-determination and self-expression. It’s annihilatory, silencing. It intends to rub out the voice and rights of the victim, who must rise up out of that annihilation to speak. To tell a story and have it and the teller recognized and respected is still one of the best methods we have of overcoming trauma.” [7]

If a female victim decides to speak, which cannot at all be taken for granted, having their story believed and the perpetrator punished for his guilt is perhaps one of the most difficult results to obtain, so their trauma often becomes double. The feeling that not only you were a victim of violence, but also that, if you tell it to people, they either do not believe it or, even if they do, that it does not guarantee by any means the punishment of the perpetrator and your healing, inevitably produces a second trauma of surreal hopelessness – one that is deeply connected with the inadequacy of verbal and visual language. If you cannot obtain credibility about your violence, verbal language, through which this failure occurs, becomes very frustrating. If we add that Sigmund Freud “stopped listening to his female patients”, as Solnit reminds us, because “if they were telling the truth, he would have [had] to challenge the whole edifice of patriarchal authority to support them”, the surreal hopelessness becomes unbearable. [8] The American psychiatrist Judith Herman sheds important light on Freud’s delusional verdict that “women imagined and longed for the abusive sexual encounters of which they complained”. [9] In her seminal book Trauma and Recovery, Herman comes to the unsettling conclusion that “the dominant psychological theory of the next century was founded in the denial of women’s reality”, which is known as “The Freudian Cover-up”, as defined by Florence Rush in the 1970s. [10] Have we fully realised today its negative externalities on women’s credibility?

Pairing the two ‘inadequate descriptive systems’ of ‘scripto-visual’ language in artworks that deal with such a delicate subject, when it is done in such a way that images and words enhance each other’s ambiguity by exerting the function that Roland Barthes defines as “relay”, creates an important gap or void between images and words. It is the result of the constant ping-pong, or tension, between looking at the images and reading the words. [11] A third unattainable object, which Sergei Eisenstein called, in relation to montage in film, literature, and art, a “third something”, develops only in the viewer’s and reader’s mind. [12] As I shall illustrate, the way the two photo-text books by Oursler and Oliveira deal with the gap between words and images, their ambivalence and cultural connotations, as well as the way meaning is re-framed and re-contextualized within them, I believe, allows for room to reflect on the attack on women’s credibility, the absurdity of violence and the very inadequacy of these languages to represent the trauma it causes – opening up a space of negotiation which could lead in turn to healing the trauma via awareness, advocacy and storytelling.

An Album of Violence and (More Than) Dust share a similar approach of thinking about violence through appropriating and deconstructing the language of the perpetrators, hence the title of this essay “Linguivore Species” to underline the relationship between scripto-visual language and credibility as women’s defence weapon to re-appropriate their abused identities. The title also pays homage to Khairani’s collection of poems, Indigenous Species, where a young girl “abducted and smuggled aboard a boat bound upstream on an Indonesian river, through a landscape scarred by ecological destruction and historical greed […] may yet save herself”, if, through her indigenous condition, she can root herself back into its landscape and languages. [13] Equally, by appropriating and subverting the perpetrators’ words, through image-text intersections, the abused women of Oursler and Oliveira boldly demystify the violence they suffered and sarcastically reaffirm their credibility. I believe it is no coincidence that they opted for a scripto-visual language that combines images and words. Photo-text experiments in the 1970s, such as those of Barbara Kruger and Victor Burgin, partly aimed to bring into the art world and market works that addressed political, semiotic and psychoanalytical issues to deconstruct the mainstream ideology of their contemporary society. In terms of ‘Photo Text Data’, Burgin’s 1976 Possession poster is a very interesting pre-Internet example, in which the words “what does possession mean to you? 7% of our population owns 84% of our wealth”, presented with the source of the statistics (The Economist), and an image of a wealthy white western couple in sensual effusions in between question and answer, intentionally confuse sexual connotations with inequality issues. Oursler’s and Oliveira’s approach is loosely reminiscent of Rosler’s The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems, as it is plausible that both Oursler and forty years later Oliveira opted for dichotomies of image and text, to overcome the inadequacy of each medium alone when dealing with such a delicate and traumatising issue.

After graduating in literature at George Washington University and teaching there for a while, Oursler became the National Secretary of the Peace and Freedom Party between 1965 and 1967 and was a Black Panther activist in 1966–67. In 1969, she became the first director of the Women Center in New York. After her encounter with Vana Caruso, a cinema assistant director and the wife of Italian artist Giulio Turcato, Oursler moved to Italy. There she took part in the feminist group La Compagnia del Beato Angelico. Active as an artist in 1970s Italy, she had exhibitions in Romana Loda’s art gallery Multimedia in Erbusco, nearby Brescia. An Album of Violence, which can be considered one of the foremost conceptual feminist art books of the 1970s, originated from her show Happy New Year at Multimedia in 1975. [14] A series of silkscreen appropriated headshots and snapshots of women victims of male violence open out into a depressingly wide gatefold of inconsistently numbered news stories. They are stories of additional attacks to other women as documented in the bourgeois and male-dominated Italian press, within the newspapers’ crime section, known in Italian as “cronaca nera", which literally translates to “black news”; something the Italian news industry has always been somewhat macabrely obsessed with, perhaps as a heritage from dictatorial regimes whose strategy to instil tension and fear in the population aimed at nurturing in them a higher tolerance for stricter measures. [15]

Spread from Stephanie Oursler, An Album of Violence. All photos taken by the author.

Structured like a calendar, as an ironic reference to the then popular Playboy, Oursler presents twelve months of violence. The 1970s witnessed a growing number of reported cases of rape and violent assault against women throughout Italy, with the year 1975 marking probably one of the darkest periods: Antonietta Bernardini, committed to the psychiatric hospital of Pozzuoli in Naples, accused of slapping a policeman, died when her mattress caught fire after she had been tied to a bed for 4 days. In September 1975, 19-year-old Rosaria Lopez is assassinated by three wealthy men from Rome, after 36 hours of violence and rape, in the tragic events known as the Circeo massacre. Oursler used found images of victims of well-known crimes to mark each month of the year, and accompanied them with handwritten fragmented sentences at the bottom that evoke the potential cause of violence: “She wanted a glass of water”; “She always used to buy very expensive shoes”; “Twenty years earlier her husband got injured at work” – at first glance emphasising the whimsical nature of violence, behind which culturally tolerated justifications are lurking that disturbingly remind us of the aforementioned Freudian Cover-up.

The banality of the action that describes a possible reason that provoked the violence creates a short circuit that underlines the absurdity of violence and the impossibility to find any reason to justify it. Oursler’s texts present what Walter Benjamin described as the “revolutionary use value” in relation to the caption that he believed should accompany each photograph to “rescue it from the ravages of modishness” that he believed permeated art photography of his time due to its aestheticising style even in images depicting social issues. [16] Oursler’s appropriated images of victims are far from being intentionally stylish consumer products, even though the screen print as a technique comes with a degree of alluring aesthetic. Each pairing is then further accompanied by a certain overabundance of texts, presented as columns of excerpts from the Italian press. These columns are laid out in flap pages that unfold to the right of the portrait. Interspersed within these columns, a number of fragmented words and sentences, such as “gun” or “she doesn’t want love”, are presented bigger in font and bold and, together with the red random numbers overlaid on the text, conjure up a somewhat crazed unfolding of time and language.

Image-text intersections are hence multiplied and expanded, creating a claustrophobic and asphyxiating effect that questions the gap between a personal memory of one’s life, highlighted by the subjectivity of the autobiographic gesture of handwriting, and the alleged impartial objectivity of press documents. The cover, a close up of a black bin bag – that, to the disappointment of the artist, turned out blue during the printing – echoes the installation that Oursler created for the exhibition Happy New Year, where she hung black bin bags all over the ceiling filled with newspaper waste as a metaphor for women’s lives thrown away. [17] In the entire book, perhaps the most heart-breaking words are Oursler’s, included at the very beginning:

“At night history is not progressive. Men are momentary accidental noisy squatters in the universe. Women are, at least, quietly invisible … In clear mornings of habitual sanity, one reads the newspaper and reason eclipses the moon. There are women worthy of attention, eloquent in their mangiven power to die.” [18]

Forty years after, we live in an age in which the plethora of social media applications that function around their users’ production of photo-texts, such as Facebook and Instagram, is overwhelming. If we think about it, the Google Images search engine is the ultimate word and image device as it operates by inserting text in the blank, which determines the images of the search result. It is therefore not surprising that Oliveira’s book (More Than) Dust began as a photo-textual production on Facebook, as a series of posts by Oliveira, paired with a series of self-portraits “juxtaposed with abusive phrases and words that her previous partner had told her”. [19] As pointed out by Sarita Tanori, “the intention behind the photo was to recognize the emotional weight that come with words and how that can negatively affect one’s self-worth”. The “massive social media response” that Oliveira received “made her realize the demand for this platform of expression”. [20] Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign (More Than) Dust was made possible.

It is interesting to observe the new possibilities and strategies of collective healing that are enabled by digital platforms at a structurally different level compared to printed books, which are of course important and can become equally popular as websites, Facebook groups or Instagram accounts. But they lack the “virality”, organic and constantly evolving nature offered by digital platforms. [21] The kernel of Tarana Burke’s Me Too movement, as she explains in her moving TED talk “Me Too is a movement, not a moment”, is the focus on inclusiveness and “collectivising” trauma and healing. “Trauma”, she explains, “halts possibility, while movements create possibility”. Despite the fact that more and more people are joining the movement every day, she feels a sense of “numbness” in front of perpetrators that deny survivors credibility and continue to hold their positions of power and privilege, and in front of the media’s attempt to shift the attention away from survivors and to depict the movement as a sort of “gender war”, a “vindictive plot against men”. Hence her mission to make the Me Too movement into a universal and choral fight for the “far-reaching power of empathy”, for a world free of sexual violence, where everybody is impacted and trauma is collective, rather than a watershed moment of “witch hunt”, as “every human being has the right to walk through this life with their full humanity intact”.

Digital platforms also better enable to give a voice to minorities, who are even more vulnerable according to the statistics Burke mentions in her speech, and who are less likely to network and have access to the offline traditional publishing industry without an intermediary that would inevitably speak on their behalf. By reaching out to cis women, trans women and non-binary models, all survivors of abuse, Oliveira crafted a photo-text book that gathered their shared experiences of misogyny, from harassment to verbal, emotional and physical abuse. “By listening to their stories and photographing these women, it became clear that these feelings, phrases, and experiences were universal and harmful”. [22] Oliveira has transformed her personal trauma into a book that is the result of feminine collective healing, possible in this form thanks to digital platforms.

Spread from Jamie Oliveira, (More Than) Dust. All screenshots taken by the author.

In (More Than) Dust the obnoxious words pronounced by the oppressors to their victims are framed by witty still lifes that constitute obsessive visual frames and are paired with portraits of young naked females from their waist up, alternating between showing and hiding their breasts. The phrase “If you keep acting like that you will never get married” is framed by an image of seemingly light purple flowers and paired with the portrait of a young woman naked and looking perplexed or worried. The sentence “I could easily find someone better” is framed by two sex dolls and paired with another portrait of a naked young woman slightly overweight and with sagging breasts. Two boxing gloves surround the manipulative sentence “You make me treat you like this”, reminiscent of the Freudian Cover-up. Or again, the bigot warning “Don’t do anything that will bring down your father’s reputation” is enclosed by still lifes of condoms and paired with an image of another young naked woman who is covering her breasts and has a large tattoo on one of her arms. Along the lines of physical appearance’s paranoia, the phrase “You are pretty for a fat girl, but if you lost some weight you would be prettier” is disturbingly framed by an abundance of red and white pills.

The feeling of anxiety, manipulation, claustrophobia and violence reaches its climax with the pairing of two sentences: “You don’t need your family, you have me”, surrounded by an image of two frames of family pictures and laid out next to an image with the same frames broken, which contains the ominous sentence “If you speak with them again, I will hurt you”.

Working with a community of women that were eager to share their own experiences, Oliveira created a contemporary narrative on solidarity. Unlike Oursler, and also perhaps due to the ubiquitous nature and accessibility of digital photography as well as its viral circulation on social media, including the “selfie extravaganza” of our current times, Oliveira makes no reference to official press documents. She is more interested in the subjective memories of painful experiences, and rather than using found images of the victims she prefers to shoot her own more intimate portraits with her subjects appearing in all their powerful vulnerability and dignity. As the victims portrayed in An Album of Violence are mostly dead, Oursler was of course somewhat obliged to use found images, which charges our reading of Oliveira’s book with a further layer of meaning. Indeed it is crucial to reflect on women’s vulnerability before it is too late and to explore ways towards their empowerment.

If in An Album of Violence we witness an overabundance of text versus images, with an asphyxiating tragicomic effect created by the surreal potential causes of violence handwritten by the author below an official headshot of the victim that, by having circulated in the press have acquired a more algid objective aura, in (More Than) Dust the mechanism is almost diametrically opposed. The visual prevails, text is treated as image and the sarcastic effect is produced by the tension between the disturbing sentences and the witty still lifes that frame them.

In his investigation on photo-texts, Andy Stafford underlines an important parallel between the distance that David Levi Strauss defines as a political issue between photographer and subject and the distance between visual and verbal representations that W.J.T. Mitchell describes as “inseparable from struggles in cultural politics and political culture”. [23] This parallel between the two types of distance allows me to make two remarks. Oursler is not the photographer of her subjects. Also, she fictionalises the alleged reasons behind the violence against those women, by handwriting sentences of supposed and absurd ‘justifications’ that do not refer to the victim portrayed in the appropriated image, but are instead extrapolated from other perpetrators’ declarations during trails, published in the Italian press. This intervention expands the distance between fiction and reality and highlights how abuse does not belong to one narrative. The surreal and uncanny nature of these possible reasons expands, in turn, the distance between the very category of violence and any attempt to justify it, which is simply unacceptable and vain. This double distance is the strength of Oursler’s political intervention. Second, Oliveira fictionalises the visual representation of the verbal abuses, with the witty still lifes that frame the obnoxious sentences, obtaining the similar effect of mocking the very attempt to rationalise any abuse, while also dissecting the manipulative psychological mechanisms in the perverse minds of the oppressors.

In her introduction to An Album of Violence, the psychoanalyst Manuela Fraire distinguishes between three different ways in which violence has been mystified over history. [24] The first is what she describes as “religious/participatory”, which entails the identification with the victim and the obsession with finding the guilty, the “inhuman perpetrator”, whose very existence guarantees the existence of justice, because he will be punished to re-establish social order. Further she envisages the “sociological/impersonal” type of mystification of violence, where it is perceived as an algid phenomenon, the result of social contradictions devoid of any personal story, to be studied in terms of statistics and mostly attributed to mere social deviation. Finally, Fraire refers to “the revolutionary use of violence”, quoting Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, which envisages the colonised, the oppressed to use the same violence that makes them a victim as a tool against the coloniser. Fraire draws a parallel between the position of women in human society with the one of black people in our white-dominated society, where biology is used as a pretext for inferiority. However, she makes a fundamental distinction: although men and women seem to share the same revolutionary project of liberation from oppression, the war to liberate a population does not coincide with the war to liberate women who, after the revolution, go back to their passive discriminated condition. Once the social order is re-established, the violence that used to occur in the streets shifts back to the domestic space. In a way, in women’s history there is no chapter about violence. [25] “Violence is the element that unifies all the women in the world”, writes Fraire in her introduction “Better Dead Than Absent?”. She concludes that women’s oppression in Oursler’s artist book appears to go beyond social class differences, as she transforms the objectivity of the documents from the Italian press into a subjective more universal narrative where the countess and the maid are murdered in the same way. However, by selecting twelve cases of heterosexual Italian white women, she excludes women of different sexual orientation and races, by far among the most oppressed beings in European countries. By including the offenses that both cis women and trans women as well as non-binary people received, Oliveira addresses, unlike Oursler, a more diverse community of survivors of abuse and their shared experiences of misogyny, championing and demanding equal rights.

Going back to the issue raised by Khairani Barokka at The Photographers’ Gallery that I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, as a white western woman myself, who so far has led quite a privileged life and has possibly put on that incriminated palm oil red lipstick as a sign of an alleged and vicarious emancipation, although I feel the urgency to denounce violence against women and celebrate scripto-visual endeavours that challenge canonical and mystificatory approaches to violence, I cannot help wondering: what gives me the right to do so? The question of entitlement remains unquenchable and so does the need to focus more on so-called minorities and to invite them to tell us their own stories, which is something that digital platforms can facilitate, as demonstrated by Oliveira.


[1] See also Eric Wakker/Friends of the Earth, “Greasy Palms: The Social and Ecological Impacts of Large-Scale Oil Palm Plantation Development in Southeast Asia”, 2005, friendsoftheearth.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/greasy_palms_impacts.pdf (all URLs quoted in this essay were accessed 3 May 2019).

[2] For a better idea of the role and duties of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, see Dubravka Šimonović’s Statement for the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), 12 March 2018, ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Women/SR/StatementCSW12March2018.pdf.

[3] For a compelling account of Mirabel sisters’ wondrous life, I recommend Julia Álvarez’s novel En el tiempo de las mariposas (1994).

[4] Cf. World Health Organization: who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women. On the challenges of measuring violence against women see Sally Engle Merry, “Cultural Dimensions of Power/Knowledge: The Challenges of Measuring Violence against Women”, in Sociologie du Travail 58 (4), 2018, 370–380: journals.openedition.org/sdt/915.

[5] Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2014), 5.

[6] Ibid., 71 (my emphasis).

[7] Ibid., 71.

[8] Ibid., 106.

[9] Quoted in ibid.

[10] Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (New York: Basic Books, 2015). See also Judith Herman, Father-Daughter Incest (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981) and Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984). Freud famously wrote in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1933): “In the period in which the main interest was directed to discovering infantile sexual traumas, almost all my women patients told me that they had been seduced by their father. I was driven to recognize in the end that these reports were untrue and so came to understand that hysterical symptoms are derived from phantasies and not from real occurrences.”

[11] ‘Scripto-visual’ form is an expression introduced by Victor Burgin in the 1970s. See my interview with him for Aperture PhotoBook Review, 016, April 2019. Roland Barthes, “The Rhetoric of the Image,” in Image, Music, Text (London: Fontana Press, 1977), 32–51.

[12] Sergei Eisenstein, Problems of Film Direction (Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific, 2004), 12f.

[13] Khairani Barokka, Indigenous Species (London: Tilted Axis Press, 2016), no pagination.

[14] See also Raffaella Perna’s review of the book that I commissioned for Aperture PhotoBook Review, 016, April 2019, as well as her essay “Immagini del No e Un Album di Violenza: Il Femminismo italiano in due libri fotografici degli anni settanta” for the 2018 catalogue of the Italian photography festival Fotografia Europea published by Silvana Editoriale. Oursler’s book is also included in Gerry Badger and Martin Parr, The Photobook: A History Volume III (London: Phaidon Press, 2014).

[15] Piero Macri, “L’informazione ansiogena dei TG italiani”, in European Journalism Observatory, 22 February 2010, it.ejo.ch/cultura-professionale/linformazione-ansiogena-dei-tg-italiani.

[16] Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer”, in Understanding Brecht (London: Verso, 1998), 95.

[17] I would like to thank Gerry Badger and Sonia Lenzi for their generous help in sharing some parts of a yet unpublished interview they did with Stephanie Oursler before she sadly passed away.

[18] Stephanie Oursler, Un album di violenza (Roma: Edizioni delle Donne, 1976).

[19] Jamie Oliveira, (More Than) Dust (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016), no pagination, and Sarita Tanori, “(More Than) Dust Empowers Women through Photography”, in Huffpost.com, 26 July 2016, huffpost.com/entry/more-than-dust-empowers-women-through-photography_b_579815d9e4b0e002a3145283.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Indeed the adjective “viral” refers specifically to an image, video, piece of information, etc. that is circulated rapidly and widely on the Internet.

[22] Sarita Tanori, “(More Than) Dust Empowers Women through Photography” (see note 19).

[23] Andy Stafford, Photo-Texts. Contemporary French Writing of the Photographic Image (Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2010).

[24] Manuela Fraire, “Better Dead Than Absent?”, in Oursler, An Album of Violence (see note 18).

[25] This reflection resonates with Silvia Federici’s seminal research Caliban and the Witch, which re-traces the transition from feudalism to capitalism that was primarily enabled, she argues, by the subjugation of women through the persecution of witches and the disciplining of the body. See Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch (New York: Autonomedia, 2014).