Viviana Peretti is an Italian photographer based between Bogota and New York where she graduated in documentary photography and photojournalism from the International Center of Photography in 2010, after graduating with a Magna Cum Laude in Anthropology from the University of Rome and completing an MA in journalism from the University Jorge T. Lozano of Colombia.
Viviana has received prestigious fellowships, awards and her work was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Rita K. Hillman Gallery in New York, the June Fitzpatrick Gallery in Portland, the Kkien Atelier in Milan, the Museum of Art and Culture in Bogota, the MACRO Museum in Rome, and the Museo Archivo de la Fotografía in Mexico City, among others.
In 2014, she was elected Photographer of the Year in the Sony World Photography Awards' Arts & Culture category for her series Dancing Like a Woman.
Dancing Like a Woman was shot during the National Bambuco Gay Pageant celebrated in July 2013 in Bogota. During the event, drag queens challenge each other by wearing traditional dresses and dancing the Bambuco, a regional, folkloric, religious dance from the Andes. In Colombian rural society, the process of falling in love and courting is expressed through dance. The man begins to dance, courting the woman, while she dances away fluttering her skirt and making herself pursued. Throughout the day, viewers are scream and stimulate the loving dancers, and the game of love becomes more exciting and tense, as the flow and the movements of the dance.
In the traditional Bambuco, men lead women, but at the Bambuco Gay Pageant, women are drag queens. The vast majority of them come from Southern Colombia, where Bambuco has a very strong tradition and where it is taught to children in school. As kids, these drag queens would have learned the male movements but as adults, they have taught themselves the female role.
Viviana’s pictures are elegant and gentle, they reveal the nature of non-heterosexual gesture and posture in such a subtle way, allowing the viewer to feel and touch its fragility and beauty. By changing female and male roles in such a traditional dance in Colombia, Dancing Like a Woman questions gender and society’s rules and stereotypes in order to create a space of respect and tolerance for the LGBTI people in Colombia and other countries around the world, where still they face discrimination and stigmatization at many levels. Viviana’s work advocates for a more inclusive society in which diversity can be celebrated as a richness and no longer be perceived as a threat.