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Creative in Residence: Cecilia di Paolo

Date: 03 May 2018

The exhibition Made to be Loved will be hosted by design-led hotel Leman Locke from May 3rd.

This series is as much about storytelling as it is about art. London based portrait photographer, Cecilia Di Paolo, captures the unimaginably tight bond between human and objects.

We caught up with Cecilia to discuss the project.


What was the inspiration behind 'Made to be Loved'?

There are a lot of theories on the idea of the ‘Love Object’. Nowadays, humans create strong relationships with their pets, cell phones or personal object. This concerns the contemporary world, where technology is evolving massively and we are falling into antisocial behaviours that are pulling us away from the norm of social life.

Psychoanalytical theories have helped describe the relationship and border between subjects and objects that can be traced through human culture, for example, in the story of Pinocchio.As robots are advancing, sex dolls are starting to become accepted by society. Channel 4 has just launched a ‘Sex Bots’ documentary on Matt McMullen’s Real Dolls.

I was inspired by Hans Bellmer’s ‘La Poupée’, in which he moulds puppet dolls and lets them start in various locations. I am combining the narrative of the doll with a fashion photography sense to the aesthetic of the images, from artists such as Guy Bourdin.

 What’s the message you would like to convey?

Is not about sex. Is about love. I am embracing my own view and perception of the object. Is a performance. The self-portraits add to the message as I am the one that becomes the doll.

There are many views, positive and negative, on love objects, as they are seen as objectifying women and men. However, I am concentrating on sharing the idea that they are not just an object to be used, owners develop romantic feelings towards them. The moment the silicon doll is seen as real, it becomes real.

I am simply recreating situations and narratives in which the doll could be found.

 How did you choose your subjects?

I was captured by one of ‘Real Dolls’ creator Matt McMullen, in which he shares how most of his clients have real romantic feelings for his creations. I was interested by ‘Object sexuality’ or ‘Objectophiles’, subjects who fall in love with inanimate objects or structures. These individuals rarely have sexual relationships with humans, as they see their loved object as fulfilling relationships, so unlike sexual fetishism, they treat them as equal partners; sometimes owners believe their feelings are reciprocated.


Could you give some background about how your approach to photography and who would be your inspirations?

While focusing on Art Direction when working with Fashion Photography, my personal work expresses itself in Self-Portraiture. It is a performance in which for two seconds while pressing a button I become another character. It has always been about self-portraiture, viewers are interested in artist’s voices and I want to share my own now.

The first photography book I opened was Sally Mann’s work. A documentary about her family life. Since then I have understood how photography is the perfect medium to share your view on reality or making your own.

John Szarkowski in 1978 analysed American photography during the last 20 years, explaining how there has been a movement from public to private concerns, giving more space to personal visions. Szarkowski moulded the division between photographs as ‘’Mirrors and Windows’’: a photograph as a ‘mirror’ reflects the sensibility of the artist and his individual view; the term ‘window’ refers to an image that is showing you reality. I am mirroring my vision and reflecting it into still images.

I am now aiming to create work inspired by Guy Bourdin or Helmut Newton and moving forward into Art Directing, and really focusing on being creative and working with incredible people. I have started with a vague idea of how important image making was for me, and now it is my career.  

Made to be Loved will be exhibited across the 22 floors of Leman Locke from Thursday, MAY 3.


Follow Cecilia on Instagram.