I’m Zaira Zarotti.
I was born in Venice, in the heart of this amazing and unique city, on New Year’s Eve 1988.
It’s here that I spent the first years of my life, smelling the fog and seeing the water reflecting on the noble palaces. I was born into a non-conventional family of artists who brought me up encouraging me to draw on the walls of theirs studios.
I like to think that my creativity comes from the genetic code I had received, or it may be a sort of contamination from which I couldn’t escape.
I lived in Venice, Milan and – for a fair amount of time – also in Paris, but the artistic enviroment in which I grew up has always been part – and still is – of who I’m today. Primarily, I’m a photographer, though I’m not keen to define myself as a such.
I have learnt that the search for who we are and how we express ourselves, comes from doing what makes us feel good in accordance to our deeper nature. During any act of pure creativity, like photography, painting or cooking, something extraordinary happens which is like a sort of meditation, it’s solitary and intimate. I find this space when I do something that I really love doing and I apply myself with devotion. I understood I had become devoted to photography after accepting the fact that I would never have been able to compare myself as a painter with my parents. Through photography I’ve found my path.
I attended painting workshops at home, at art school and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice until I put all my trust in the photography. I have graduated at the CFP Bauer Photography School in Milan, where I lived for five years. I enjoyed living in Milan but I’ve never had strong feelings for this city. My nostalgic eyes were constantly looking for that faboulous Venetian decandence in every small thing. That’s when I understood the great value of time because it gives a sacred aura to things. Venice is all this and I missed it.
When I was living in Milan, I was looking for a way of belonging and so I started to cook in my tiny kitchen so that I could remember the place I had left through my senses. Smells and tastes tie us to places and people, food does this and so much more.
The house where I grew up used to smell of homemade cakes and sometime of turpentine.
I liked the old wooden table in the kitchen where sometimes my father ate with his fingers still stained with paint.
The table loaded with the used household objects and simple but carefully prepared food have taught me the beauty for the daily life, which is what I seek out in the styling of my photographs. Like Venice, I was fascinated by the revelation of Paris displaying so much of its well preserved past. In Paris, I visited the old fleas markets and went to the brocante shops looking for that antique, vintage, fin-de-siecle look that reminded me of my family’s home interior.
Now, I live near Venice in a country house close to the river Brenta, the Riviera del Brenta, as it’s known, along which stand the ancients villas of the Venetian nobility, who used them as their summer residences. From the window of my kitchen I can see a big garden and a little further, beyond the orchards, there are my family’s large studios.
This place has become a creative workshop with lots of activities taking place but has managed to keep its old characteristics and a slow way of life. This includes the seasons, the moon and the sustainable vegetable garden where vegetables are grown with care. It also includes the love for beauty in all of its forms, for the good food and the value of time added on every material and object used.
Here, my work mostly consists of photography and food styling.
I develop new recipes or use the Italian and Venetian traditionals ones. I use organic and local products or the vegetables grown in my vegetable garden.
I’m always looking out for objects and materials that are vintage and out of the ordinary, and I personally take care of the styling. It doesn’t matter where they come from or what condition they are in, what’s important for me is their quirkiness.
Just like the food that reaches my table, also the objects have their own unique story. For this reason I have started a new production of ceramics raku. Each unique piece is entirely designed and handmade by myself. In this Japanese technique, deeply rooted into the Zen spirit, I’ve found a connection with my search for beauty in the imperfection. I performe the complete production process, from the clay modelling to the baking (you can read more by following this link).
The Freaky Table is about all this: it’s about my time here and about the nostalgic beauty of the simple and imperfect things in daily life.
This is my project and this is my life-story.
This is my table, imperfect and odd like each of us is in its own way.
© Zaira Zarotti – All rights Reserved
All photographs, recipes, styling and texts here, are created and copyrighted by myself unless otherwise stated.
Please, do not use them for any commercial purposes without my explicit written permission.
As an alternative you can purchase my photographs using different licences on my Agencies links.
For private use, please be kind enough to credit whenever you share anything taken from this web site. Thank you!