“I photograph as a documentarian, wishing to preserve and to collect. I am drawn to subjects with a resonance that connects me to history, anchors me firmly in the present, and offers engagement in the external world and insight into my inner realm. When compelled to photograph, I follow my impulses, allowing time and resolve to divulge the complexities of my subject matter. I aspire to intimacy, seeking to distill the essence of my subject, while defining and deciphering my personal iconography.”
Over the course of her twenty-five- year career, Tria Giovan’s work has been defined by diverse, in-depth, timely, and thoughtful subject exploration ranging from projects on New York’s Lower East Side, her family’s Virgin Islands and Rhode Island homes, Cuba, the beaches of Long Island, and her own Sag Harbor back yard. Whether capturing a tree canopy, the variants of tide, wind, sand, and sky, the day-to-day subtleties of a country, or the haunting permutations of empty rooms and random emblematic objects, she does so with a refinement and sophistication that ground us in the recorded moment. Her direct approach and discerning discipline reveal the layered complexities of her subjects while preserving their immediacy.
In 1990 Giovan began work on a project that would comprise twelve month-long trips to Cuba over a six-year period. Cuba The Elusive Island, published by Harry N. Abrams in 1996 brought together 100 of these images along with a selection of writings by some of Cuba’s most important writers. Twenty years later, she returned to these images, rediscovering in them a record of a vanished Cuba. In October 2017, Damiani published The Cuba Archive, a selection of 125 images from the 25,000 taken from 1990 to 1996. Photographs from the series, as well as work commissioned by the Annenberg, were featured in Cuba Is (2017-18), at the Annenberg Space for Photography. She was one of the subjects of a documentary produced for the exhibition about photographers working in Cuba. The Cuba Archive won a 2018 International Photography Award for best documentary book.
In spring 2012 Damiani published Sand Sea Sky: The Beaches of Sagaponack. The 63 images selected from a 10,000-image project reveal the complex visual embodiment of the artist’s decade-long meditations on nature’s transient fragility. Carl Safina, Blue Ocean Institute president, scientist, and award-winning author contributed the essay. Sand Sea Sky won a 2012 International Photography Book Award.
Giovan is an inveterate traveler who grew up in the Virgin Islands, and whose photography assignments traverse the globe. Her work has been published in Aperture, Elle, Esquire, Harpers, G.Q., Travel & Leisure, Smithsonian, and Vogue, among many other publications. Her photographs have been exhibited in New York City, Athens, Greece, Paris, France, Hyderabad, India, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, California, Chicago, Illinois, and Havana, Cuba, and are in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Parrish Art Museum, The Jewish Museum, and The NY Public Library.