An Interview with Federica Chiocchetti, Researcher in Photography and Literature at the University of Westminster, Writer and Curator.

federica chiocchetti - the photocaptionist

Originally posted on February 3rd 2014

Federica is an Italian researcher of Photography and Literary Theory at The University of Westminster in London, where she is pursuing a PhD, under the supervision of Professor and photo-artist David Bate.

She is a photography consultant and independent curator, currently working on an exhibition on WW1 & the archive, featuring material from the Archive of Modern Conflict, planned for the Hungarian Photomonth in Budapest in November 2014, to mark the centenary year of WW1. Far removed from trench discourse, the exhibition, inspired by George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House, explores moments of unconcern at the outbreak of the war.

She writes about photography and photobooks for several publications, in both print and online, including: Photobookstore, Emaho, The Photographers’ Gallery Blog, Objektiv, 1000 Words Magazine and Café-Crème. Her essay Realism and Photography in Brecht’s War Primer‘ was published in the MAPP digital edition of the bookWar Primer 2 by artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, published by MACK and winner of the 2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

Federica was appointed Co-Director of Slideluck London in May 2013. In this capacity she co-curated a slideshow for the Portuguese photo-festival Encontros da Imagem in September 2013 and she is currently co-curatingHungry Still; a touring Slideluck London retrospective and a photo-cook-book, in partnership with FORMAT Festival.

She will launch the Photocaptionist, an online a periodical platform devoted to exploring the intriguing relationship between photography and literature, images and words, in the near future.

We caught up with Federica to discuss what she’s currently working on, Slideluck London, her background in literature and much, much more!

Genesisimaging: Hi Federica, are you ready to talk about photography, food, curating and writing?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Yes, si!

Genesisimaging: Perfect! Firstly, tell us what you’re working on at the moment?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): I’m trying to write my PhD – on photography and literature, which is painful but great. Also writing for a few magazines when they commission…

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): …Curating an exhibition on WW1 and the archive for the Hungarian Photomonth in Budapest in November 2014…

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): …Last but not least, I’m working on a Slideluck London retrospective and photo-cookbook with my great colleague, Maria Teresa Salvati.

Genesisimaging: Sounds busy! Tell us about Slideluck London.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Slideluck is an International non-profit arts organisation founded in New York City by Casey Kelbaugh and runs in 55 cities around the world.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): It’s a fantastic platform that combines photography slideshows, sound and multimedia with food, in the form of potluck dinners.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Usually we do an open call for Slideluck London and select the best submissions in collaboration with an International Photo Editor or Curator.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Often we agree to feature the best works in the magazine of the Photo Editor who works with us on the selection…

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): …which is a great opportunity for our contributing photo-artists.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): We then curate a projection night and ask our community to cook a homemade dish to take to the event.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): We eat first with a nice DJ set, then the lights are dimmed and the photo projections start.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Almost like in the cinema, but its photography!

Genesisimaging: Wow, what do you hope that those who attend Slideluck take away from the experience?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): The featured photo-artists: quality feedbacks, mentorship, exposure and new contacts.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): The people that attend: some unseen intriguing photography, nice sounds, food, networking and new friends!

Genesisimaging: Sounds great! What can you tell us about the Slideluck London retrospective and what can we expect from the photo-cookbook?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): The whole project is called Hungry Still.’

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): We are working with great people like Louise Clements and her team at Format Festival and Derby Quad.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): It’s a new and exciting project; a two-month exhibition and the photo-cookbook which we are producing with the terrific artist-led factory at Akina Books.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): To celebrate Slideluck London’s best artists, we have invited them to go back to their photo-stories, to reflect and send us a recipe that is somehow related to them.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): It was Maria Teresa’s great idea.

Genesisimaging: Sounds great – we can’t wait! When is the Slideluck London retrospective and cookbook planned for?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): QUAD Gallery in Derby (15/03 – 18/05/2014) will be the first venue of our European touring exhibition.

Genesisimaging: Before we move on to talk more about your approach to photography and literature (with some Q’s from our followers!)…

Genesisimaging: …tell us what you think has been the biggest change to Slideluck London since it began in 2007?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): This retrospective, it translates the one-night event into a touring exhibition, a book…

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): …and our slideshows, curated around the themes of photo festivals from the Slideluck London Archive, like with Festival Encontros da Imagem.

Genesisimaging: Great – we’re really looking forward to the retrospective! Now, to talk about your approach to photography and literature…

Genesisimaging: …Sarah asks, what would you say has been your biggest influence in photography and writing?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Thanks! I am interested in storytelling.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): I enjoy combining photography and literature, which is the idea behind my forthcoming platform, the Photocaptionist’ launching this spring 2014.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): My passion has always been non-realism in literature and it really shapes my photographic tastes as well.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): I tend to prefer projects that depart from reality or mock it. My biggest influence is Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Bolaño.

Genesisimaging: Interesting! Leads us nicely onto a Q from Maria.

Genesisimaging: Maria asks, what would you say is the most significant similarity and/or difference between photography and literature?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): It’s easier to find differences: sequence – a photo can only provoke narrative in the viewer, whereas a text contains it.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): However a PhD is not enough to grasp this complex relationship, imagine a twitter conversation.

Genesisimaging: What would you say has been your career highlight, so far?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): To conceive and curate this exhibition for the Hungarian Photomonth, on WW1 and the archive…

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): …which combines a play by Bernard Shaw, a weird Russian movie and incredible material from the Archive of Modern Conflict.

Genesisimaging: Sounds interesting! Slideluck London asks, while studying and with so much going on, how do you choose what to get involved with?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Ha! It depends on the idea behind the project, the people involved and the need to reach the end of the month

Genesisimaging: Tell us, who have you been most excited to have met or worked with?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): A lot of people… to be synthetic (and in no order of preference):

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): My PhD supervisor, Professor and Photo-Artist David Bate, The Artistic Director of the Hungarian Photomonth, Gabriella Uhl…

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): …absolutely everyone who gravitates around the mind-blowing Archive of Modern Conflict…

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): The Italian photographer Francesca Catastini (who I found out was also my cousin… long story…)

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): And Brian Griffin, for his creativity and energy.

Genesisimaging: And where did your interest in photography come from?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Sometimes it’s more a matter of where will it end up… Jokes aside, my interest is in other people’s photography.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): It began when I read Calvino’s The Adventures of a Photographer’ back in high school in Italy.

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): I was fascinated by the frustrations of the protagonist – don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t read it yet…

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): …but it started with a text, sorry to disappoint you

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Then I found some late 19 century photographs of my family in Brazil, apparently of where they lived at the time – which I still have to digest and explore.

Genesisimaging: It’s always really interesting where people find their inspirations and interest in photography. Last question…

Genesisimaging: If you could own any single image or body of work, by any photographer, what would you choose?

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Sorry to disappoint you again, but if I have only one choice…

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): …it would be a book: John Heartfield / Kurt Tucholsky, Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles’, 1929.

Genesisimaging: Interesting! Sadly, that’s all we’ve got time for… Thank you for taking the time to talk to us this afternoon!

CandidaDesideri (Federica Chiocchetti): Thank you all for the inspiring questions!

Visit the Photocaptionist at

Read more about Hungry Still at

Find out more about Slideluck London at

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