Critics’ Picks

La Donna Barbuta (The Bearded Woman), 2000.

Brussels

Alessandra Spranzi

Galerie Drantmann
13, Rue du Chantier
November 16–December 23, 2001

Alessandra Spranzi is an Italian photographer who explores both visual and social structures. Here, she presents several dozen images from the life of a bearded woman who turns out to be none other than the artist herself, wearing a long false beard and flower-patterned aprons. Alone in wintry landscapes that recall Italian Neorealism from the 1950s and '60s, as well as '70s socially conscious photography, the bearded woman is captured in moments of mental drift and daily actions. Slowly, Spranzi unfolds a subtle portrait of a life marked by her particular difference but also by a lack of differentiation and ambivalence. The beard, the dated photographic style, and the desolate countryside are humorous—but not ironic—emblems of melancholy and solitude.