The Red Road Project offers a rare and candid glimpse of a culture that only represents 1% of the total American population. Resilience, survival, inspiration and untold beauty are captured in photographs that portray an accurate reality of what it means to be a Native American in the twenty-first century. Photographer Carlotta Cardana’s approach to taking the portraits is one that leaves the subject to be part of the process; she directs the person to dress whichever way they prefer and choose the location of where the photograph will be taken; a place that is meaningful and represents who they are and is part of their personal story. Danielle SeeWalker, the writer on the project, is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, or Oceti Sakowin – the proper name of the Sioux people. Despite living off the reservation, she has stayed closely connected to her culture and traditions which has given this project a multi-dimensional point of view.
It has been said that if you keep telling the same sad, small story, you will keep living the same sad, small life. Regrettably, this has been deemed reality in the relationship between Native American people and their portrayal in media. The intention for The Red Road Project is to highlight the positive and inspirational aspects of the culture that don’t often have the opportunity to surface. It is a venue for the First Nation community to not only take part in the project, but become part of the project.
The Red Road Project was born in 2013 over casual discussion and a glass of cabernet in a centuries-old London wine cellar. With Carlotta’s experience as a professional photographer and Danielle’s direct connect to Indian country, it only made sense to collaborate on this project as a duo. The Red Road Project is an on-going work in progress with hopes to one day publish a book and take its finished product back to Indian country as a traveling exhibition.
Carlotta Cardana is an Italian portrait and documentary photographer based in London.
She took on photography while working as a producer in a circus academy and eventually moved first to Argentina and then to Mexico City, where she started freelancing as an editorial and commercial photographer.
Her recent personal work explores the issues of belonging and community, whether among young Italians living abroad, couples from the Mod subculture or modern American Indians. Her approach to portraiture privileges the subject’s experience and stresses the relationship between people and their environment.
In 2013, she was named “Discovery of the Year” at the Lucie Awards. She was also among the winners of the New York Photo Awards, the PDN Photo Annual, the LensCulture Exposure Awards and the Association of Photographers Open Awards. She was shortlisted for the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards.
Cardana’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions around the world – among others FOTOGRAFIA – Festival Internazionale di Roma, Noorderlicht Photofestival, Month of Photography Los Angeles, Kolga Tbilisi Photo, The Powerhouse Arena – and publications such as The Guardian Weekend, The New York Times T Magazine, Marie Claire, D Repubblica, Rolling Stone, L’Espresso, and GQ.
The Red Road Project
Photos by Carlotta Cardana, Text by Danielle SeeWalker
23 Nov – 6 Dec 2015
Fonderia 20.9 Via XX settembre 67, Verona
Opening Friday 20 Nov, 7 pm.