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Photographer Riccardo Raspa on helping political activist Aboubakar Soumahoro through his work

By Alma Fabiani

Feb 4, 2021

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What happens when you mix the historic winery Tenuta Tenaglia with a talented group of young Italian and international creatives? What about when you mix sensual reality with trade unionist Aboubakar Soumahoro? You get photographer Riccardo Raspa’s latest project, the limited edition 2021 calendar titled ‘Tenuta Tenaglia for Aboubakar Soumahoro’, whose proceeds will be donated to the inclusion projects led by the political activist Soumahoro. As the winner of the first round of the Image Series Challenge, we spoke to Raspa about this charitable initiative and his career as a young photographer.

Photographer Riccardo Raspa on helping political activist Aboubakar Soumahoro through his work

This calendar is actually the first project that resulted from the winery’s ‘Tenuta Tenaglia Residence’, a creative space that welcomes and produces artistic projects by international designers and talents for charitable purposes. By building a network of young entrepreneurs and creatives who share strong ethical and social awareness, led by Isabella Ehrmann, Tenuta Tenaglia has been reinvented through a modern twist integrating a diverse programme of artistic residencies.

Photographer Riccardo Raspa on helping political activist Aboubakar Soumahoro through his work

The ‘Tenuta Tenaglia for Aboubakar Soumahoro’ 2021 calendar, which had a small run of 300 copies, had all of its funds donated to the renowned trade unionist, activist and author of Umanità in Rivolta, Aboubakar Soumahoro and his inclusive projects. Soumahoro’s work is focused on defending people’s labour rights and ensuring the happiness of the “Invisible”—Italian and foreign citizens who have been crushed by inequalities.

Following Sardinian art director Roberto Ortu’s direction, which was inspired by “the eroticism found in the celebrated work of Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin and the cinema of Tinto Brass and Peter Greenaway,” Raspa was in charge of the photography, while designer Daniel Sansavini, French fashion director of the famous Lui Magazine Dan Sablon, top model Malick Bodian and Isabella Potì, the youngest chef awarded with the Michelin Star, all participated in the project too.

Photographer Riccardo Raspa on helping political activist Aboubakar Soumahoro through his work

Speaking to Screen Shot, Raspa explained how he had always been attracted to images in general, “I have always been greedy about imagery, I grew up glued to my screen watching amazing movies with incredible stories. I had to read my dad’s newspaper every morning while going to school, and the photos were always there for me to analyse—all those patterns!”

Right after finishing school, Raspa moved to the UK barely speaking any English at the time. He went to university to study photography, “and worked my way up from the very bottom.” As a photographer, Raspa tends to develop imagery around a specific subject; a story, which is probably why he was the perfect creative for ‘Tenuta Tenaglia for Aboubakar Soumahoro’.

Photographer Riccardo Raspa on helping political activist Aboubakar Soumahoro through his work

“Thanks to Roberto Ortu, I was invited to produce this crazy project. We spent 15 days as guests of the Tenuta Tenaglia Art Residency, working on this idea, the research, the casting and so on. We then decided that Tenuta Tenaglia was going to host a ‘majestic wedding’, filled with hedonistic guests and devoted to wine, pleasure, and sex. Luckily for us, it snowed, and we took full advantage of the situation.”

But producing sensual images during lockdown while under the snow doesn’t come easy, “It really was a challenge, I never thought, never, that I would produce erotic work. We photographed and filmed for two days—the wine helped the flow,” shared Raspa.

Photographer Riccardo Raspa on helping political activist Aboubakar Soumahoro through his work

As COVID-19 continues to affect young creatives all around the world, the ‘Tenuta Tenaglia Residence’ and its latest charitable project come as a refreshing initiative bound to inspire more artistic people to come together and produce new types of ingenious projects. As for Raspa, “more crazy projects” are on the way, and we can’t wait to see them.