The Exhibition

I SEE YOU is a digital photographic exhibition part of #LANDINGS2021 focusing on the role of empathy in the act of both making and looking at photographs.

The Open Call

Einsehen, or Inseeing = “The wondrous voyage from the surface of a thing to its heart, wherein perception leads to an emotional connection.” (Corbett, 2016)

The ability to see things from another person’s point of view, the sense of one’s own body responding to their feelings, the desire to enter their world through the power of imagination, the shock of recognition. This definition of empathy could also be the description of the act of both making and viewing a photograph.
Tolstoj conceived art as “a means of union among men” thanks to its power of “infecting” people with the emotions of others. By practicing photography we strive to look at reality in a deeper way, and we allow ourselves to be seen. As viewers, our sense of self is refined and expanded.
I SEE YOU is a digital group exhibition seeking for photographic work that is born and can be understood through empathy, and that ultimately fosters our ability to “feel with others”. In a world which still favours individualism, and yet is shaken by events that question our own self-sufficiency, bring some change from within?

A few words from the curator

This exhibition is born from my ongoing reflection on the role of art in the contemporary world. How does art impact my life, and how can it make a difference in other people’s lives as well? Although an all-inclusive answer is still far from being found, I believe that one of the greatest functions of art is the recognition and expansion of one’s own self – in two steps: in making artwork, and in experiencing the artwork made by others.

Going through this process can not be done without exercising empathy.

It has been deeply inspiring seeing all submissions to I SEE YOU. The themes addressed touch many fundamental aspects of our existence in society, such as mental health, youth, loss and remembrance, poverty, race and belonging, body politics, masculinity. The creative methods were also extremely varied, going from autobiographical, intimate projects, to works that are born from a close collaboration with one or a few subjects, to series focusing on the experience of a wider community.

The 8 selected projects have been chosen not only on the base of their originality and communicative power, but also as representative of this variety of methods and approaches. At the end of each project’s gallery you will find 3 suggestions to continue your visit by exploring another project which is linked, thematically or in another way, to the previous one.

I would like to suggest you a few questions that you may ask yourself while exploring the exhibition. These can give you a glimpse of my own reflections while examining the submissions, and enrich your experience.

  • How are emotions expressed visually?
  • Do you recognize yourself in the work?
  • Does the work show you something you have never seen before?
  • Does the work bring you to an understanding (cognitive empathy)?
  • Does the work make you feel (emotional empathy)?
  • Does the work inspire you to take action (compassionate empathy)?
  • Is the work about the artist’s experience or about someone else’s (or both)? And where do they turn their camera to (themselves, other things, or both)?
  • How is the artist’s relationship with their subject(s)?
  • What kind of audience could be interested in this work? And what kind of audience could benefit from it?
  • Is my notion of empathy changing and/or expanding?

Make your own questions too. What are the most relevant ones that popped in your head while visiting this exhibition? Please share them using the Guestbook.

To be seen means not only to be physically visible, but to be recognized for one’s own uniqueness and humanity, to be understood.

Through empathy we realize we are not alone. We realize we are not the first ones on Earth to have thought certain thoughts and felt certain feelings, but that we are part of a wider stream of inner life flowing through all human beings, irrespective of time and geography, and we feel close to people who we will most probably never meet. After all, the best art is the ones that gives a name (or form) to things we already know but cannot name ourselves.

I hope this exhibition can give you a glimpse of how photography can be a tool to make us all feel a little more connected.

Enjoy the viewing!
© Damla Shinbas, 2021.
© Carl-Mikael Björk, 2021.
© Victor Klaesson, 2021.
© Dawn Rodgers, 2021

Outside of the digital realm

Online exhibitions are exciting because they can be viewed by many people, independently from where they are in the world. But for what audiences are these artworks thought, and how could they be seen in the most meaningful way? And foster empathy at their best?

Submitting artists were asked to imagine how they would display their work, if everything was possible. When money, time, contacts and logistics are not an issue, we can let our imagination run free and think about how we would like our photography to have an impact outside of ourselves.

You find the answers on each project’s dedicated page along with beautiful collages produced by the photographers.

And what would you do?

About the curator

Chiara Bellamoli is an Italian freelance photographer based in Germany. She is a current student in the MA Photography at Falmouth University.


Instagram: @chiara.bellamoli