Cristina Nuñez

Born in 1962, Cristina Nuñez is a self-taught artist-photographer, whose work has been exhibited and published internationally, and she is a facilitator of the creative process with her method The Self-Portrait Experience (SPEX). In 2020 Nuñez obtained her PhD by Publications at the College of Arts, University of Derby, on her artistic practice and her SPEX method. Nuñez obtained the Diamond Phototherapy Award 2020 of the Royal Photographic Society in Bristol, in recognition of her long term practice with therapeutic photography using her method The Self-Portrait Experience in her autobiographical work since 1988 and in her work with over 3700 people around the world since 2004. The award was given during the Photo-Therapy Day online Symposium on May 22, 2020. Nuñez lives and works in Ticino, Switzerland.

After an adolescence as a heroin addict and a prostitute, Cristina Nuñez takes self-portraits since 1988 as a sort of self-therapy, to explore and stimulate her creative identity, and to increase self-esteem in moments of crisis. In 2004 she realizes that this practice can be useful for others and creates The Self-Portrait Experience (SPEX), a dispositive to explore one’s inner life using the photo self-portrait, including directions for the choice and perception of images and for the construction of autobiographical projects.

Since 2004 Nuñez holds SPEX workshops in prisons, mental health facilities, rehab centers, youth centers, high schools, art academies, universities, museums, galleries and companies, in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, France, UK, Norway, Finland, Luxemburg, Germany, USA, Canada, South Korea, Bangladesh and Australia.

In 2007 Nuñez starts working on her autobiographical project SOMEONE TO LOVE, using self-portraits, family pictures, text and video, exhibited at the Mois de la Photo in Montreal in 2011. Her autobiographical video SOMEONE TO LOVE obtains the Celeste Prize 2012 and her project But Beautiful, the Prix de la Critique 2013, Voies Off, Arles.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Nuñez has been working on the Emotional (R)Evolution project, composed of:

  • her autobiographical and “artivist” videos in four languages on her Youtube channel and Instagram profile. 
  • the self-portraits and autobiographical projects of SPEX workshop participants, which will be published in a permanent online exhibition in 2021. If you want to participate, click here.
  • the collaborative self-portraits of the Higher Self project.

Nuñez has held SPEX workshops in the following institutions:

European Capital of Culture 2011 – Turku, Finland

MUFOCO, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Cinisello Balsamo, Italy

SKOL, Centre des Arts Actuels, Mois de la Photo de Montreal 2011

Casino of Luxemburg, Contemporary Art Center

The Private Space Gallery, Barcelona

Consarc Galleria, Chiasso, Switzerland

Maison de l’Image, Grenoble

Oslo Fotokunstskole, Oslo

Forma, Centro Internazionale di Fotografia, Milan

Pathsala Photography Institute, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Luova gallery, Helsinki

MC2 gallery, Milan

MS gallery, Madrid

H2O gallery, Barcelona, Barcelona

Brians 1 prison, Barcelona

Wad Ras prison, Barcelona

Lledoners prison, Barcellona

Quatre Camins prison, Barcellona

San Vittore prison, Milan

Bredtveit prison, Oslo

Ila prison, Oslo

Ullersmo prison, Oslo

University of Roehampton, London

Manchester Metropolitan University

University of Northampton

University of Luxemburg

University of New York

University of Turku, Finland

University of Barcelona

University Complutense of Madrid

University of Girona, Spain

University of Milan Bicocca

Catholic University of Milan

University of Bologna, DAMS

Turku Arts Academy, Finland

Domus Academy of Fashion and Design, Milan

Tampere University Hospital, Child Psychiatry Department, Finland

ASL Mental Health Center, Lucca, Italy

Impro Gentianes, AFIPAEIM, Grenoble

Mental Health Day Hospital (for adolescents) Nou Barris , Barcelona

Centro Maria Letizia Verga, for adolescents with onco-hematologic cancer

SERT, Service for Addictions, Palermo, Italy

Association for the Unemployed, Turku

Housing Works, Women’s Health Center, Brooklyn, New York

Institute for the Arts in Psychotherapy, New York

Finnish Phototherapy Association, Turku, Finland

Ariele, Psychotherapy Association, Milan

Philo, School of Philosophical Practices, Milan

Ispa, Art therapy Institute, Barcelona

Institute of Family Therapy, Florence

Institute of Family Therapy, Bologna

Erich Fromm Institute, Bologna

Institute of Body-Mind Phototherapy, Bologna

Sistema Counseling, Milan

Corso High School, Correggio, Italy

Kastu School, Turku, Finland

Raunistula School, Turku

Hansa Shopping Center, Turku

Rudolf Steiner School, Milan

Scuola pubblica elementare, Gorgonzola

SDA Bocconi, formazione aziendale, Milano

Marketing Forum, formazione aziendale, Milano

Mida, formazione aziendale, Milano

Watson Wyatt, formazione aziendale, Milano

Future Concept Lab, Milano

Saatchi & Saatchi, formazione aziendale, Milano

Hotel Diana Majestic, Milano

Cosmos gathering, Toscana, Italy

Muksumanki, business training, Turku, Finland

Italfondiario, business training, Milano e Rome

Danone, business training, Milan

Banca del Mezzogiorno, business training, Milano

Spazio Labò, Bologna

Spazio Lambrate, Milano

Centro Culturale Candiani, Venice

Citilab, Cornellà, Spain

Biblioteca Pubblica di Gorgonzola, Italy

Bottega Immagine, Milan

Perugia Social Photo Fest, Italy

Sponge Arte Contemporanea, Pergola, Italy

Associazione Coreana di Fototerapia, Seoul, South Corea

Awards and job grants

2020 – Diamond Phototherapy Award, Royal Photographic Society, Bristol, UK.

2015-16 – EEA Grants for the project “We Exist”, self-portraits in Norwegian prisons.

2015 – OSIC, Support Office for Cultural Initiative, Catalan Government, for the project La Vie en Rose, the dialogue.

2015 – La Caixa Obra Social, for the project Self-portraits in the Penitentiary Center Quatre Camins. 

2014 – OSIC, Support Office for Cultural Initiative, Catalan Government, for the project Her/Story, Women Behind the Camera.

2013 – the video La Vie en Rose#2 receives the honorable mention of the Visual Arts Award Ciutat de Palma.

2013 – EEA Grants Norway, “Cultural diversity and Cultural Exchange” for the project Her/Story, Two Women Behind the Camera.

2013 – OSIC, Support Office for Cultural Initiative, Catalan Government, for the project La Vie en Rose and the exhibition But Beautiful at Sponge Arte Contemporanea.

2013 – The project But Beautiful receives the Prix de la Critique 2013, Festival Voies Off, Arles.

2013 – Nuñez receives the Ora Prize, with the gallery Sponge Arte Contemporanea, Pergola, Italy.

2012 – La Caixa Obra Social, for the project Self-portraits in the Penitentiary Center Lledoners.

2012 – The video Someone to Love wins Celeste Prize 2012, video-art section.

2012 – OSIC, Support Office for Cultural Initiative, Catalan Government, for the exhibition Someone to Love at H2O gallery in Barcellona and Luova Gallery in Helsinki and for the book But Beautiful – Higher Self.

2011 – CONCA, Council for Arts and Culture, Catalan Government, for the exhibition Someone to Love at Mois de la Photo of Montreal 2011.

2010 – La Caixa Obra Social, for the project Self-portraits at the Penitentiary Center of Brians 1 and Wad Ras in Barcelona.

2010 – Finalist and honorable mention at Interim N.1 of New York Photo Awards.

1996 – Mosaique, CNA Luxemburgo, for the project Heaven on Earth.

1994 – Fondazione Studio Marangoni, Florence, for the project Body & Soul.

One person exhibitions

2016 – Higher Self, Maif Social Club, Paris.

2015 – But Beautiful, Chobi Mela Festival, Dakha, Bangladesh.

2014 – Someone to Love, The Boiler Room, Oslo. 

2013 – But Beautiful, Sponge Arte Contemporanea, Pergola, Italy.

2013 – La Vie en Rose and Someone to Love, video projection, Galería La Zúa, Festival Proyector, Madrid.

2013 – La Vie en Rose and Someone to Love, video and performance, Encontros da Imagem, Braga, Portugal.

2013 – La Vie en Rose and Someone to Love, video and performance, Editions Limités, Galerie du 4 Septembre, Arles.

2013 – La Vie En Rose, video première and performance, Effearte Gallery, Milan.

2012 – Someone to Love,  Luova Gallery, Helsinki.

2012 – Someone to Love, H2O Gallery, Barcelona.

2012 – Someone to Love, MS Gallery, Madrid.

2011 – Someone to Love,  video preview, H2O Gallery, Barcelona.

2011 – Someone to Love, Skol Centre des Arts Actuels, Mois de la Photo de Montreal 2011.

2010 – Higher Self, The Private Space Gallery, Barcellona.

2008 – Sono adolescente, Polifemo, La Fabrica del Vapore, Milan (curator).

2007 – Young Italian Gentle Men, Spazio Private Larusmiani, Milan.

2000 – I am, Franca Speranza Gallery, Milan.

1998 – Homebirth, La Lunanuova, Milan.

1998 –To Hell and Back – Risiera di San Sabba, Trieste, Italy.

1997 – All’inferno e ritorno:

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Biblioteca Nazionale, Turin

Museo Monumento al Deportato, Carpi, Italy

Palazzo Reale, Milan

Encontros de Fotografia, Coimbra, Portugal

1995 – Body & Soul, Fondazione Studio Marangoni, Florence

Group exhibitions (selection)

2015 – Money, Les Nuits Photographiques, Pavillon Carré de Baudoin, Paris.

2015 – Self-timer Stories, MUSAC, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea of Castilla y León, Spain.

2014 – I AM, Memoirs of Addiction Recovery, Manchester Metropolitan University.

2014 – “2004-2014. Opere e progetti del Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea”, Triennale, Milan.

2014 – Her/Story, Women Behind the Camera, H2O Gallery, Barcelona.

2013 – video Someone to Love, Videomedeja Festival, Novi Sad, Serbia.

2013 – But Beautiful, proiezione, Voies Off Festival, Arles.

2013 – video Someone to Love and the book But Beautiful, The Flood Wall II, Berlin.

2012 – video Someone to Love, Celeste Prize 2012, Centrale Montemartini, Rome.

2012 – video Someone to Love, Social Photo Fest, Perugia, Italy.

2012 – video Someone to Love, Social Photo Fest, Piombino, Italy.

2012 – video Someone to Love, Les Nuits Photographiques, Rencontres d’Arles.

2012 – video Someone to Love, Les Nuits Photographiques, Paris.

2011 – 2000 & 11 Self-Portraits, Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki.

2011 – 2000 & 11 Self-Portraits, Capitale Europea della Cultura 2011, Turku. Peri Photography Centre.

2011 – Higher Self, “Second Lives: Jeux Masqués et Autres Je”, Casino of Luxemburg.

2010-11 – Grandi e Piccole, Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea, Cinisello Balsamo, Italy.

2010 – Io mi vedo così: Autoritratti Fotografici, Centro Italiano Fotografia d’Autore, Bibbiena, Italy.

2010 – Autoritratto al Femminile, Polifemo, Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan.

2010- Foto d’Autrice, Galleria Bel Vedere, Milan.

2009- The Self-Portrait Experience, Festival FotoGrafia, Rome.

2008 – De L’Europe, CNA Luxemburg.

2006-2007 – Il Sole nelle Mani, Bariphotocamera, Bari.

2006 – Tales from a Globalized World, Nazioni Unite, New York.

2005 – Tales from a Globalized World, Krakow, Vienna, Dhaka.

2005 – Est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent,  Jardins du Luxembourg, Paris.

2004 – Tales from a Globalized World, Zurich, Chiasso, Italy.

2003- Quotidiano al Femminile, Galleria del Credito Valtellinese, Milan.

2003 – Tales from a Globalized World, Geneva.

2002- The Spirit of Religion, Photocenter Skopelos, Skopelos, Grece.

1999- Papa, Maman, Chateau de Nyon, France.

1999- Philip Morris Gallery, Giò Marconi Gallery, Milan.

1998 – Images du Monde Interieur, Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles.

1996-Il Ritratto, un’Evoluzione, Breracult, Milan, curated by Photology, Milan.

Monographic books

2012 – But Beautiful, Le Caillou Bleu, Bruxelles.

2012 – Higher Self, Le Caillou Bleu, Bruxelles.

2010 – Someone to Love, The Private Space Books, Barcelona.

2006- Young Italian Gentle Men, Valentina Edizioni, Milan.

2000 – Io Sono, Dianova, Milan.

1997 – All’Inferno e Ritorno, Art&, Udine, Italy.

Collective books

2015 – Money, Les Nuits Photographiques, Paris.

2015 – Self-Timer Stories, Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein, MUSAC.

2014 – L’Arte è utile, comunque bella, Adina Pugliese, Meta Edizioni.

2013 – Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography in a Digital Age, Del Loewenthal, Routledge, London. 

2012 – Il corpo solitario. L’autoscatto nella fotografia contemporanea, Rubettino, Soveria Mannelli.

2011 – 2000&11 Self-Portraits, European Capital of Culture 2011 Turku, Finland.

2011 – Lucidity, Inward Views, Mois de la Photo de Montreal.

2010 – Autofocus, Stefano Ferrari – Chiara Tartarini, Ed. Clueb, Bologna.

2008 – De L’Europe, CNA Luxemburg, Dudelange.

2007 – Il Sole nelle Mani, Bariphotocamera, Motta Editore, Milan.

2005- Est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent, Editions du Chène, Paris.

2003- Tales from a Globalized World, Thames & Hudson, London.

2003- Quotidiano al Femminile, Peliti Associati, Rome.

2001 – The Spirit of Religion, Skopelos, Greece.

1999 – Paradise, ed. Steidl.

1997 – Europa, Encontros de Fotografia de Coimbra, Portugal.

1996 – Vita da Bambino, Art&, Udine, Italy.


Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris

Centre Nationale de l’Audiovisuel, Dudelande, Luxemburg.

Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea, Cinisello Balsamo, Italy.

SDC, Ministero d’Affari Esteri, Switzerland.

Camera di Commercio di Bari.

H2O Gallery, Barcelona.

The Private Space Gallery, Barcelona.

Encontros de Fotografia, Coimbra, Portugal.

Sponge Arte Contemporanea, Pergola, Italy.

National Collection of Photography of Catalonia, MNAC National Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona.

Degree thesis with extensive mentions of The Self Portrait Experience

1. Adela Miencilova

De Monfort University, Leicester, UK.

MA in photography

“The Self as a Photographic Metaphor in Mental Health” , 2010

2. Giuliana Lioce

Fine Arts Achademy, DAMS, Bologna

COBASLID: Biennial Second Level Courses with Didactic Address – Art Education

“Autoritratto, tra Indice e Identità”, 2009

3. Giada Carraro

University of Bologna – Faculty of Letters

MA in History of Art

“Attraverso l’obiettivo: il potere terapeutico della fotografia, tra arte e psicologia”, 2010

4. Alexandra Hoffman

Brooks Institute of Photography, Santa Barbara, California

Master Science in Photography

“Messages from the Unconscious: Self-Portrait Photography as a Discovery of Being”, 2009

5. Valentina Brivio

Università Cattolica in Milan

Faculty of Psychology – Master in clinical psychology

“The body image of teenagers: the photographic self-portrait as definition of the self”, 2011

6. Carla Visone

University Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples.

Faculty of Communication Sciences and Multimedia Productions

”Ignoto a me stesso: autoritratti fotografici d’artista” 2011

7. Federica Valvassori

University Ca’ Foscari, Venice

Faculty of Philosophy – Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage

First level master in communication and non-verbal languages: psychomotor skills, music-therapy, and performance languages

 “Il processo educativo nell’autoritratto fotografico. Identità tra ricerca e trasformazione”, 2012.

8. Leena Koulu

University of Tampere and Tampere University of Technology

MBA Executive

“The self-portrait of a leader : new tools for personal coaching”, 2012.

9. Erica Pasinato

Fine Arts Achademy, Venice

Master in Visual Arts

“L’autoritratto fotografico”, 2010.

10. Ester Roig Luque

Institut Daina Isard of Olesa de Montserrat

“The Self-Portrait Experience” 2012.

11. Luciana Vasques Barbosa

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University – Faculty of Media and Communication

MA thesis : “Self-Portraiture and future : an examination of a photographer’s creative identity” 2011

12. Federica Nardese

University of Milan Bicocca

Faculty of Educational Sciences

“Abilità narrative: quali competenze sviluppare per utilizzare strategie narrative, nel lavoro e nella vita” 

13. Erika Di Sano

University of l’Aquila

Master in Applied Psychology

“La dimensione emotiva umana: psicologia dell’autoritratto e The Self-Portrait Experience”  2011-2012

14. Elisa Scala

University La Sapienza, Roma

Faculty of Literature and Philosophy

“Fuori della camera oscura: le immagini che guariscono”, 2012-2013