CLOSE UP: Giulia Berto – Behind the Door

A man makes soaps with street-found objects enclosed in glycerin in his open-space living room repurposed as a workshop.

The Living Room | Behind the Door © Giulia Berto

Shutter Hub member Giulia Berto is a Dublin-based Italian photographic artist. She is a graduate of the International Center of Photography in New York and holds an MSc in Evolution of Animal and Human Behaviour and a BSc in Biology.

Her photographic work explores intimate spaces and personal stories. Anchored to domestic or natural landscapes her images encourage viewers to consider human narratives that revolve around everyday objects. She adopts a long-form approach for her work and her medium of choice is analogue photography, both in small and large format.

She has lived in London and New York City and her photographs have gained international recognition. More recently, her series Fragments was included in the Photography on A Postcard exhibition (London, 2017), Circulation(s) Festival (Paris, 2018) and premiered in Ireland in a solo show at The Darkroom (Dublin, 2019). Her work has won various awards and has been featured in Black+White Photography, the British Journal of Photography and the HuffingtonPost amongst other publications.

Giulia has exhibited with Shutter Hub in ‘Because We Can’ at Festival Pil’Ours, Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, France, 2018, the Shutter Hub OPEN 2017 at Retina Photo Festival, Edinburgh, where she was winner of the public vote and she was winner of the Shutter Hub Photomasters Award, 2016. In this Close Up Giulia tells us about her project ‘Behind the Door’.


Close up of a bed with a colourful cover against a wall filled with posters, artworks and drawings.

© Giulia Berto

Rents are on the rise and cities are overcrowded while home spaces are constantly reducing, becoming smaller and more suffocating. ‘Behind the Door’ captures the out of the ordinary domestic spaces and characters that inhabit a warehouse conversion facing an uncertain future.

Built just before 1915, the establishment at the centre of the story is a hulking, century-old redbrick building four stories high. It produced cosmetics, cotton, rayon and vinyl for nearly sixty years before closing in the late 1980s.


A kitchen with pans and pots hanging from a repurposed bike wheel suspended from the ceiling

The Kitchen | Behind the Door © Giulia Berto

A woman and a man sit at a table playing with a jigsaw picturing urban scenes. A painting hangs behind them near the kitchen.

Light Work | Behind the Door © Giulia Berto

Williamsburg was a hub for manufacturing back then but it quickly developed into a desirable area in New York City. In the past fifteen years this part of town has witnessed a fast-paced gentrification process aggressively replacing historical buildings with new luxury condos. The former factory – which was converted into residential units in the early 1990s, is one of the few landmarks which has survived.

In an overpopulated metropolis – and a swiftly changing neighbourhood, intimate portraits, candid moments and still life images take viewers on an anthropological visual journey through a rapidly vanishing urban way of living.


A display case with a hermit crab on a cabinet sided by a toy cat and against a wall-size blackboard with drawings and family photographs.

Blackboard | Behind the Door © Giulia Berto


In 2012 I moved from London to New York City, where I lived for five years. I made ‘Behind the Door’ during that time as a response to the sociological changes undergoing in my neighbourhood.

The world has now transformed beyond recognition. As the pandemic started to take hold across the globe – reshaping our lives in unimaginable ways, with social distancing and remote working becoming the norm. Today big cities are seeing a decrease in population as residents move away from crowded metropolises in favour of less densely inhabited areas, bigger home spaces and a more outdoor oriented lifestyle.

I sat down and looked at the project with fresh eyes and wondered again: what will happen to this urban way of living? Only time will tell.


See Giulia’s website here, follow her on Instagram here and Twitter here.




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