Motorcycle Photography. What do those words conjure?  Shots of choppers or sportbikes, hot babes or dudes lofting wheels – we’ve seen a lot of it.  It’s rare to find a new and unique vision within the crowded field of photography these days, but an artist friend forwarded the Instagram feed of Rita Minissi (@thingspowerthemselves) and we knew something was different. Intrigue turned to excitement as we pored over her feed, then her website of the same name; here was a rare thing – a totally new way of looking at motorcycles and riders. We were instant fans.

Rita’s work isn’t easily pigeonholed; it sometimes appears sexy, sometimes Sci-Fi or S&M, and sometimes raw and animal.  She often photographs herself, in different guises, with identity-obscuring masks, wigs, and outfits. Her  photos are less erotic than botanical, like variations on a theme of ‘orchid’, reminiscent of Georgia O’Keefe.  Like O’Keefe, Minissi doesn’t strive for the sexual – there’s no nudity or sly exposure –  but  her work fundamentally explores the complicated universe of Eros. This reveals the viewer’s relationship to the erotic, as Rita’s not explaining anything. She embraces the ‘different and contradictory manifestations of identity’ in exploring ‘how one portray’s one’s self to others,’ as well as our determination to resist any sense of universality in our self-conception.  The creatures in her photographs are often unidentifiable in being masked (or helmeted), but are nonetheless full of individuality and character, with unexplained motivations and circumstances.

Rita was commissioned in 2015 to photograph Revival Cycles’ custom Ducati ‘J63’  in NYC.  The Vintagent’s Paul d’Orléans has ridden and written about the J63 for Cycle World; the bike is a compelling, beautiful thing, and a prime example of the mystical Silver Machine.  It was a delight to discover Rita grappling with the J63’s otherworldliness in a new way; as a counterpart to her black leather alien alter ego. We’ve previously described leather catsuits as ‘poking a gloved finger into some ancient part of men’s brains’; in Rita’s lens they become critical props in a drama we don’t understand; is this riding?  Is it ritual?  Is this motorcycling in another dimension?

Whatever’s happening in these photos, the presentation of Person+Motorcycle is like nothing we’ve seen before. Rita’s photos currently illustrate our article ‘The Sex Machine: Part 1′, and can be seen through Nov. 2017 at the Venice Biennale, at the European Cultural Center’s Palazzo Mori exhibit, ‘Personal Structures: Open Borders.’ 

[All photos c.2015 Rita Minissi.  Special thanks to model/performance artist Alexandra Marzella]
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