Born 1964 in Bari (Italy), Agnese Purgatorio started to study, but abandoned the university to travel Europe and Brazil instead. After a period in the Kibbutz Hahotrim, Israel, she returned to Brazil. In São Paulo, she frequented courses for engraving and photography and drawing at the Lasar Segall Museum. After her return to Bari, she started to intensify her relation to photography with Lisetta Carmi and Carlo Garzia, and participated at several workshops with renown photographers like Gabriele Basilico, Toni Catany, Martin Parr, Claude Nori, Mimmo Jodice, Cuchi White and Robert Frank.
Besides her work with the gallery Spazio Immagine, Agnese returned to university and she graduated in Foreign Languages and Literatures. This gave her in 1990 the possibility to go to Lisbon with the European Socrates/Erasmus program. Here she frequented courses in literature, art history and image history at the Universidade Clássica de Lisboa. Besides, she cooperated with the Cinemateca Portuguesa. Also in 1990, her first solo exhibition “Fata Morgana” was presented in the Fortino Sant’Antonio in Bari. Moreover, her works were shown at the Rotte Mediterranee, Biennale d’Arte Mediterranea Giovani in Tipasa, Algeria.
This was the departure for her fruitful artistic career. With her photography/digital collages, videos, installations and performances, Agnese participated in many group and had solo exhibitions in Italy and other European countries, but also Russia, the United States, Australia and South America. Her works were shown at Venice and Moscow Biennale, at Triennale di Milano and Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art – Yerevan, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, at the Manifesta 8 in Murcia, Spain and at the Rencontres Internationales d’Arles, France, where she was honoured with the European Panorama Kodak Award.
One of her recurring subjects is living clandestine. This might be regarding refugees, like in our artwork of the month / October 2018, but also concerning other social groups, like artists, exiled or prisoners. For her ability to represent forms of the human condition, Agnese was honoured with the Anima Award in October 2017.
Often, there are several versions of one image, reworked during years. With the transformations, she reinterprets her own oeuvre continuously. Frequently, these long-term projects are presented with her video installations. This and her general approach causes that the borders between the traditional artistic disciplines are blurring, with the result of poetic visual vocabulary.
Agnese writes in her biography that she lives and works in between Belgrade, Serbia and Beirut, Lebanon.