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Teramo: I am All In My Eyes – Sebastiana Papa Photography Exhibition

Saturday 1 July 2023 @ 17:00 - Tuesday 3 October 2023 @ 20:00 CEST

Monastero buddista Thekkanemida, Yangon, Myanmar, 1999


Sebastiana Papa, Olimpia Mastrodascio, storyteller, Cerqueto di Fano Adriano (Abruzzo), June 1977

Sebastiana Papa, Olimpia Mastrodascio, storyteller, Cerqueto di Fano Adriano (Abruzzo), June 1977

Sono tutta negli occhi

Step into a world where the power of a single gaze holds the key to unlocking hidden stories and unveiling the essence of humanity.

“I’m all in my eyes,” is a mesmerising anthology that showcases the remarkable works of acclaimed Abruzzese photographer Sebastiana Papa. Curated by the visionary duo of Gabriele D’Autilia and Gianfranco Spitilli, this extraordinary exhibition promises to transport you through time and space, immersing you in a captivating visual narrative.

A Tibetan Refugee, Darjeeling, India, 1969

A Tibetan Refugee, Darjeeling, India, 1969

Dancers, il tempio lama di Yong He Gong, Peijing, Chna, 1995

Dancers, il tempio lama di Yong He Gong, Beijing China, 1995

Hosted by the L’Arca – Laboratory for Contemporary Arts, located in the heart of Teramo’s Largo San Matteo from 1st July to November 19th,  prepare to surrender yourself to the compelling charm of Sebastiana Papa’s photography, where her discreet and gentle gaze reveals a world beyond the ordinary. With an uncanny ability to focus on the subjects’ beauty and delve into their very spirit, Papa’s lens captures the essence of individuals, particularly within the female universe.  She freezes moments of transcendent allure, whether children or elderly, dance or ritual gesture.

Sebastiana Papa was not just a photographer but a tireless traveller who published 22 books and held many exhibitions in Italy and overseas.  She was born in Teramo on 1 December 1932, the eldest daughter of a Teramana and Sicilian family.  She completed her high school studies in Teramo before enrolling at La Sapienza University and moving to Rome. She always maintained contact with her hometown and with Giulianova where the family had their summer house.  In the early 1960s she began to take an interest in photography and collaborate with the ‘Curcio’ publishing house, for which he documented the Romanesque churches of San Clemente in Abruzzo. It is also when she began taking her photos of human subjects taken with a Lubitel, an economic twin-lens well camera, of Soviet manufacture before she switched to a Leica M3.

Through this meticulously curated selection of Papa’s extensive body of work, 130 prints from thousands of images, this exhibition invites you to immerse yourself in the vivid tales and captivating gazes that defined Sebastiana’s illustrious career. Witness her journey unfold across continents, from the revolutionary streets of Cuba to the turbulent decolonization era in Africa. Explore the enigmatic and austere landscapes of Soviet Russia, and experience the rebellious spirit of Paris during the iconic events of 1968. Amidst these diverse settings, it is the people themselves who become the focal point of Papa’s lens, allowing you to witness their individual stories and the shared human experience.

Havana, Cuba, August 1974

Havana, Cuba, August 1974

Bookstall Under the Trees, Karl Marx, Moscow, Russia 1965

Bookstall Under the Trees, Karl Marx, Moscow, Russia 1965

As you wander through this immersive display of artistry, you will ‘feel the weight of time etched upon each face’, just as acclaimed writer David Grossman observed while contemplating Papa’s poignant images. Prepare to discover the intimate moments, secrets, and emotions that make up the tapestry of our collective existence.

All young people want to choose their own destiny, and often they find travel the ideal dimension also for getting to know themselves. Still, for a young Italian woman of the sixties from the last century, this profession /lifestyle is not so obvious. A photographer’s profession is full of risks: travelling alone in the poorest or most unstable areas of the world requires courage, and the lack of economic security in a market without rules and full of competitors demands something beyond courage!   Even whilst still young, she seems to possess the secrets of the trade: to make people accept the presence of a discreet photographic lens,  shooting with patience and tact, innate qualities of her character.  She knew how to organically create friendships, and was welcomed without distrust amongst all those she met, from Congolese paratroopers to the monks and nuns of the Buddhist temples of the Far East.


Admission to this extraordinary small exhibition is absolutely free, welcoming all art enthusiasts, photography aficionados, and seekers of profound experiences. “I’m all in my eyes” invites you to immerse yourself in the extraordinary world of Sebastiana Papa, where every click of the camera immortalises the fleeting beauty and timeless depth of the human soul. Don’t miss this exceptional opportunity to witness the arresting power of a gaze that transcends boundaries and captures the essence of humanity itself.  The exhibition is open from 17-20.00 on  Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  In addition on Sundays, the exhibition is available from 10.00-13.00.


A bilingual catalogue is available to accompany this exhibition in Italian and English and costs €40. Shipping can be quoted at the time of enquiry.

A Book to Buy?

Le Repubbliche delle DonneHave a look at Papa’s Le Repubbliche delle Donne, dedicated to female monasticism, which was then completed in 2013 on the basis of the author’s instructions after her death.  See photos here.


Saturday 1 July 2023 @ 17:00 CEST
Tuesday 3 October 2023 @ 20:00 CEST
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