Giulia Paoletti is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Virginia. A specialist of African art and photography, her research focuses on nineteenth and twentieth century West Africa. She is completing her book manuscript tracing the origins and early developments of photography in Senegal, where she has conducted research in the past ten years. Her work has appeared in edited volumes and journals including Cahiers d’études africaines, the Metropolitan Museum Journal, Art in Translation, Journal of African History, Troubles dans les collections and African Arts. Support for her research and writing include awards and fellowships from American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)/Getty; The Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA); the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. She has taught and lectured at Columbia University, Pratt Institute, the University of Kansas, and the University of Bologna. She has co-curated three exhibitions on historical and contemporary photography from Africa at the Metropolitan Museum, the Wallach Gallery and Dak’art Biennial OFF 2018.
In this essay, Giulia Paoletti deftly explores the photographic portraits of Senegalese photographer, Mama Casset, where female sitters are not mere objects of a male gaze, but rather present themselves as viewing subjects who dare to look.