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Nicola Andrea Lo Calzo is a photographer, curator and teacher-Phd-researcher (Uni Paris-Cergy and Ensapc) born in Turin in 1979. He lives and works in Paris where he teaches on postcolonial and queer perspectives in photography at École nationale supérieure d'arts Paris-Cergy. Trained as an heritage curator at the Polytechnic University of Turin, he shifted to photography in 2006. His photographic practice and research are attentive to questions surrounding identity, coloniality and political history. Lo Calzo’s photographs show the ways in which subaltern groups interact with the dominant system, the ways in which they develop strategies of agency and self-reconstruction.
Lo Calzo’s research is part of a personal questioning around identity and body politics. His artistic approach stems from his experience as a queer person, having grown up as part of a minority. It is precisely this experience of self and of the injunctions made to “non-standard” bodies that feeds his photographic practice and questions him about community practices which, historically, have been undervalued. In this regard, the idea of the subaltern body and its performativity as a producer of denormative narratives is central. The body here is both a place of assignments and a “utopian” body – or, a possibility of resistance, action and subversion of social rules and exclusions. The memory and resistance photographed by Lo Calzo are also the subaltern communities’ creative response to the commodification of bodies, operated, in the past, by colonialism and, today, by its contemporary avatar, capitalist extractivism.
For ten years, Lo Calzo has been engaged in a long-term photographic research project on the memories of resistance in post-colonial time: the KAM project. Started in 2010, KAM is developed in a “rhizomic” fashion and covers different territories of West Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas, taking the form of an evolving and organic project. The memory of resistance to slavery and colonialism is thought here not as a subject but as a reading grid to address living performative practices that exist on both sides of the Atlantic within marginalized historical communities.
He is the recipient of a Cnap grant (2018) and nominated for the Prix Elysée (2019) and the Niépce prize (2020). In 2022, he won the Grande Commane Photographique by Ministry of Culture, led by the BNF.
His works have been showed in Museums, Art Centers or Festivals, including the Festival Fotografia Europea in Reggio Emilia and the Centro Italiano di Fotografia in Turin (Binidittu, 2021), the Institute of Cultures Islam in Paris (Tchamba, 2020), Macaal in Marrakech (Agouda, 2011); the Hospice Comtesse in Lille (Regla, 2018). In 2017 the Tchamba series was exhibited as part of the Afriques Capitales exhibition curated by Simon Njami in Paris and Lille. In 2015, the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam devoted a monographic exhibition to him with works produced in Haiti and Guadeloupe (Ayiti and Mas).
Lo Calzo’s works are present in several private and public collections, including the national collections of the CNAP, BNF, National Library of France, the Lightwork collection in Syracuse New York, the Alinari Archives in Florence, the Pinacoteca Civica in Monza and the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam.
From 2015 to 2019, as part of his participatory photographic approach, Lo Calzo worked on Kazal, an experimental photographic project with the photographers of the Haitian kolektif KD2, around the memory of crime under the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti. The project, produced by the Fokal foundation, is published by Andrè Frére editions.
In 2022, in collaboration with the Jeu de Paume Museum and the Ensapc, Nicola Lo Calzo is organizing the symposium A Queer Photo Archive featuring contemporary artists whose works address the notion of queer, postcolonial issues and identity politics through the medium photography (but also installation, performance and orality).
L’Artière, Kehrer, André Frère have published several books by Nicola Lo Calzo: Binidittu (2021) Regla (2017), Obia (2015) Inside Niger (2012).
Lo Calzo is currently teaching at ENSAPC where he teaches a course on postcolonial and queer approaches in photography. His work is represented in France by the Galerie Dominique Fiat and in Italy by Podbielsky Contemporary Gallery.