Whore or Saint – Being a Woman in Italy

Book design and curation of a travelling exhibition on the contradictions of the Italian image of women

The book »Whore or Saint – Being a Woman in Italy« (published by Edition Raetia) and the same named exhibition show the contradictions of the Italian image of women and tell different feminine experiences in a country where the mother figure is adored and at the same time a woman is killed every three days, usually by her partner. Inspired by the seven deadly sins and their antitheses which are the starting points for the artistic-documentary reflection, journalist Barbara Bachmann and photographer Franziska Gilli get to the bottom of the question: What does it mean to be a woman in Italy today?

Book Design

A couple’s attempt at equality during the Covid-19 pandemic, a young woman and her urge to control her body, a mother and her violent experiences during childbirth, eleven men and their personal images of women … The book’s protagonists represent a wide spectrum of opinions, and as different as their perspectives are, as different is the design of the chapters, which responds sensitively to the complex content and yet unifies it. Four shades of red, from a warm orange to strong bordeaux, sometimes used across the entire surface, then delicately, convey emotions ranging from anger and sorrow to strength and endurance. The duality of the provocatively chosen title, which refers to the outdated classification of women into “good” and “evil,” is continued on the dividing pages of the chapters. The sins and virtues, however, overwrite themselves, at times erasing each other and yet remaining legible – the effort to freeing oneself from stereotypical role models is an ongoing battle that feminists in Italy and around the world must fight to this day.


The book »Whore or Saint – Being a Woman in Italy« (Hure oder Heilige – Frau sein in Italien) by photographer Franziska Gilli and reporter Barbara Bachmann has been awarded silver (shortlist) in the category »Documentary-Journalistic Photo Book« at the German Photo Book Award 2021/22. The book will be presented at various venues and festivals throughout 2022. For example, the Forum für Fotografie Cologne; Frankfurter Buchmesse; Biblioteca Zara in Milan; Biennale della Fotografia Femminile in Mantova; Internationales Journalismusfest in Innsbruck; Freelens Galerie in Hamburg.

Exhibition Design

The publication of the book was followed by the creation of a travelling exhibition of the same name, »Whore or Saint – Being a Woman in Italy«, curated and designed by Lupo Burtscher.


The exhibition visualises excerpts from the seven chapters of the book. The book contributions have been spatially translated and narrate the contents by means of different formats: a wallpaper and printed photos reflect the media world of Italy, photos and texts provide insight into family’s world as a composed collage, an endless banner marks the tragedy of women’s murders, large-format portraits tell life stories, and protest flags becoming a constant recurring element.
Just like the book, the exhibition tells of many different experiences and represents a wide spectrum of opinions.

The exhibition deals with the causes and consequences of the image of the woman, the dominance of the Catholic Church, the feminist era, the influence of entertainment television and the story of a mother and her violent experience during childbirth, and most importantly, the ongoing battle that feminists in Italy and around the world must fight to this day, to finally create a change.


The exhibition forms a challenging and multi-voiced space that is also intended as a place for conversation and reflection. Intended as a touring exhibition, all the elements of the space are mobile or reproducible and can be easily adapted to the other spatial conditions. Intended as a travelling exhibition, all spatial elements of the exhibition are mobile or reproducible and can easily adapt to the spatial conditions of exhibiting institutions. In 2022, the travelling exhibition will be shown at Freelens Galerie Hamburg and GAF Galerie in Hanover.


Designed by Lupo Burtscher. The entire project can be found on the archive page.


2021 – ongoing


Angelika Burtscher, Linsey Dolleman, Daniele Lupo, Victoria Preuer

Photo Documentation

Franziska Gilli, Luca Meneghel


Edition Raetia

Production of the exhibition

Foto Forum