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Stefano Sabene


Shir Hashirim

The Song of Songs is the most poetic book in the Bible. In just 117 verses the poem stages the most lyrical representation of the love between a man and a woman. The photographic project is inspired by this wonderful and musical text.

The number of images, twenty-six, is not accidental: in Judaism the number refers to the sacred tetragrammaton הוהי “YHWH”. Like a filigree signature, the word “dôdi” (delight, an epithet that the woman reserves for the beloved) occurs twenty-six times in the Canticle.

The protagonist, Shulamite, appears in an Edenic light, which illuminates the wonderful metaphors of the Canticle, where the woman’s body is a luxuriant garden, a source of clear water, a symphony of shapes and scents in perfect harmony with nature.

The technique used was the overlay of digital frames, two, three or more, in which the base layer is the female portrait. I then excavated layer by layer like in an archaeological site, until the final image emerged.

In carrying out the project I looked at very distant figurative experiences, from Byzantine iconography with its gold and mosaics to Julien Mandel’s photographic nudes of the early 1900s, up to Gustav Klimt and Marc Chagall, the author of the famous series of paintings dedicated to the Canticle.

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