Hands always tell.

Hands tell emotions and experience beyond words.

“What fascinates me about hands is that through their movement they reveal, beyond the face’s expressions,” Merlo said.

 “For me, these photos are the purest form of an intimate portrait.

“They show fragility, elegance, beauty but especially women portrayed in their detachment from the world.

“They are gathered in themselves, unreachable and do not seek any dialogue with the viewer.”

For Merlo, hands are revelatory of the inner self, more so than even the face can represent.

She is fascinated by the female figure, and in her photographs of hands in repose evokes a womanly intimacy which requires no external validation.

Nevertheless, in her subjects there is vulnerability.

Merlo has said that her works are a way to represent the search for her own identity.

The photographs evoke a time long past: the Renaissance, and its preoccupation with visual harmony.

But beside that harmony lingers an unanswered question, and an almost imperceptible darkness.

Once I filled my hand with mist.
Then I opened it and lo, the mist was a worm.
And I closed and opened my hand again, and behold there was a bird.
And again I closed and opened my hand, and in its hollow stood a man with a sad face, turned upward.
And again I closed my hand, and when I opened it there was naught but mist.
But I heard a song of exceeding sweetness.

Kahlil Gibran, ‘Sand and foam’

Monia Merlo’s photo exhibition ‘Hands’ is on display at the Italian Institute of Culture in Sydney until Sunday, May 19, 2019.