by Paola Caselli
The importance of images
Diversity is more than an exotic state of things. Diversity is a principle of reality: we are not all the same. And what is more, we should not even be. To accept diversity is to accept that what is different could change us, fix us, occupy our space, that what is different could leave a permanent mark. On the other hand, the principle that ‘we are all the same’ suggests an idea of equality that is not compatible with reality and with a plural community.
In fact, the struggle for equality and inclusion arises from the principle of diversity rather than uniformity. Being fair does not mean giving everyone the same opportunities, it means giving everyone the opportunities they need based on the nature of their diversity, which often is the real cause of exclusion.
There are infinite ways to reach this goal. One way – very common but at the same time underestimated – is language, the lexicon.
VERSO, a collective of young architects, with the project Lessici Inclusivi (the literal English translation would be Inclusive Lexicons), wants to propose an alternative to the mainstream trend of the official and ‘normal’ representation of cities and societies. Usually, the subjects of these images (insider reports, magazines and promotional representations of brand-new urban interventions) comprise a standard sample of society, i.e. young, fair-skinned men and women who are in good shape and demonstrate full professional achievement.
Launched in 2019, Lessici Inclusivi addresses the world of graphics. The project is a collection of about 300 cut images (cut-out) gathered from a broad and free online database (www.instagram.com/lessici.inclusivi), which is usually employed in renders and edited images by professionals and students of architecture and graphic design.
The uniqueness and merit of the project does not lie in the simple act of collecting the greatest number of cut images possible, which had already experienced a boom and grown widespread in the past few years, but relies on the careful and thorough selection of the images themselves. In this way, Lessici Inclusivi gives new opportunities to professionals in the field and to whoever else is interested in representing and displaying reality in a more equitable and multifaceted manner that is more respectful of diversity, in contrast with the mainstream, single-facet representation.
Thus, thanks to Lessici Inclusivi, it is now possible to find in this free database young but also old people, both thin and fat men and women, people with disabilities, people of different religions, races and social status, and many other categories that were previously rarely found.
However, it is important to underline that the aim of Lessici Inclusivi is not to criticise a specific idea of normality, but to challenge the idea of a single model as the legitimate representation of a city and society.
VERSO wants to support the idea of a truly plural city, a city for all, in which everyone can be considered a legitimate subject, worthy of being represented and occupying space.
Thus, Lessici Inclusivi is not only a tool or a way to spread the idea of inclusion: it is an opportunity for those who use it and but at the same time, it is a challenge in terms of acceptance for society.
In the end, the thesis comes down to one last question: does including specific categories of people in graphic products have a true impact on the real-world process of inclusion of these categories? Moreover, can images alone lead to social inclusion, even if this purpose is not already shared by either the users or the viewers of these images?
Thanks to the project Lessici Inclusivi, VERSO believes that a graphic vocabulary, if used well, can generate inclusion, a sense of belonging and of community, only if these concepts exist in our critical consciousness.
PAOLA CASELLI, 1992, Master’s Degree in Architecture. Architect.