A Multimedia Presentation of

Photographs and captions
from the book "AMORE"
by Donna Ferrato

Introduction by Grazia Neri

Some 20 years ago in Mark Greenberg's agency, I met Donna Ferrato for the first time. A cheeky sparkle in her eye together with an irresistible smile enchanted me. Donna was on the point of undertaking a large project concerning violence in the home, which eventually became the book and exhibition, Living With The Enemy. Either Donna does not know or does not remember, and I do not know if we discussed it during a close friendship, but she was the first person to teach me how to "read" photographs, imagining the soul, the heart and the sentiments of a person taking the photo. This is a rare gift and it often evolves in a turbulent way. I have come to know photographers after having seen all or only part of their work and I found in them a strong link between their expressive language and their character and state of mind. I felt I had known them for years.

Donna's photos are distinguished by a profound empathy and I would say almost delicate but strong intrusion into the other person's state of mind. An intrusion, which addresses itself purely to affection and love in all dimensions.

Donna Ferrato's work shows us momentous social phenomena: sex clubs, violence in the home, teenagers, problem children, love among the elderly and many others. If many photographers have dealt with these themes, no one in my opinion has managed to give them a single language, and above all, maintain a new concept (with a severity that conflicts with her beautiful smile) on amorous relationships in the world. Let me explain: in the face of violence, from pedophilia, orgies, wife swapping, to fanaticism, Donna wants to show that all sexual, sentimental, emotional distortions are distortions of unfulfilled love, of social uneasiness, emotional difficulties, from the denial of passion which stifles sexuality and sentiment. Love is always present, downtrodden, distorted, unfulfilled, rejected, ready to be reborn to relieve the negative variant.

Inside her tender and violent language there is the desire for the recreation of souls and an invitation to free sexuality in order to enjoy sentimental erotic fulfillment. While the photos draw us to a liberal sexuality, they also transmit a message to the heart of the problem: sexuality is our life's motor and has thousands of expressions, but in order to be totally gratifying it must in any case be accompanied by tenderness and affection. Donna registers these emotions and reflections in different situations: family life, casual meetings, sexual relationships, private clubs, along the streets of the world, meetings with children and adults, scenes from everyday life. And to this add a universal message: free our internal sentiments to bring us nearer to each other. Only in this way can we avoid being alone.

Among these photos are family snap shots: if you do not know Donna it is difficult to distinguish them from other photos. Why did I want to mention this? Because I am convinced that the talent of this photographer is due not only to her technical ability, but to her unprejudiced and open approach towards the intimacy of others, and managing to break down embarrassing and contorted barriers.

A few years ago in New York we thought, while looking over some of her photographs, that it would have been marvelous for Donna to dedicate her time to an important project on love as a liberal theme, and maintaining her approach on the theme, and editing her past photographs and adding them to a new project. This work became a large fresco on variants of affection, love and sexuality at the beginning of the new century, and the photos we are presenting are an extract of Donna's work in progress. The photos of love comfort us and invite us to enter the myriad paths of the constant search for the fulfillment we all so desperately want.

Grazia Neri
Contributing Editor

Introduction by Donna Ferrato

Twenty five years ago my life as a photographer began on the streets of Paris. I spoke little French but that didn't stop me from following people as they left boulangeries with hot baguettes under their arms. I think it was the way they carried the naked baguettes, nibbled at them, flirted with them that inspired my fascination.

In those days I was a fancy free young American, living out of a suitcase with a red and green Leica always under arm. Not many years later, as I toiled on my first photo essay about the libidos of rich suburban couples, something occurred which changed my path as a photographer. One night, in a drug induced rage, a husband beat his helpless wife while, in horror, I got it on film. It was time to take the blinders off my eyes.

I began to use the camera to understand how women survive abuse as well as what drives some men to beat women.  Eventually, Aperture published my book, Living with the Enemy.  When people see my work on battered women, they ask how it has affected me personally. I talk about how important it has been for me to keep a sense of balance in my homelife. With this new book, AMORE, I offer a look into the world that keeps me sane.

AMORE, is a catalogue of my life and the people that I cherish. It was published in Italy by MOTTA thanks to an agent who is a champion and a dear friend, Grazia Neri.  AMORE is a collection of ordinary moments as well as the other stuff which keeps us hopping as a species. Most of all, it is a book I was able to give with pride to my daughter, Fanita.

My next book will partner with APERTURE in the fall of 2003. It's about the phenomenon of swinging American style, documented over the last three decades.

In the face of rampant immorality among the leaders of church and state, I believe that amorality among consenting adults holds a ring of honesty. Women and men who live to be free sexually is a sight to behold.

Enter Donna Ferrato's Photo Gallery
(Advisory: This presentation contains mature subject matter.)

Video Interview
with Donna Ferrato

Camera and Interview by Susan Markisz.

To view these intervew clips, you must have
the free RealVideo or Quicktime plugins.

Send an email to Donna Ferrato.

Click below

"I would always look for the lovers."
Click below
The intimacy of violence and love.
"Things come my way that I would never have dreamt about."
On Motherhood and Family.
On her daughter's reaction to her work.
"Why do we limit ourselves?"
On the way that men and women photograph.
Publishing the AMORE book in Italy.
A fine line between love and hate.
"My book is about healthy love."
"It's famine time for photographers."
Disappointed by Hillary Clinton.
On w omen's capacity for sensuality.


Write a Letter to the Editor
Join our Mailing List
© The Digital Journalist