Stories from Southern Italy

Curated by Arianna Bianchi and Roberta Valtorta

The exhibition includes 120 photographs dedicated to the South of Italy, a theme widely represented in the Museum collections, as it has been the center of important social and ethno-anthropological studies conducted by renowned masters of Italian photography. The images, shot in Calabria, Campania, Apulia, Basilicata, Sicily and Sardinia and organized into 16 thematic units featuring 15 photographers (Letizia Battaglia, Antonio Biasiucci, Carmelo Bongiorno, Mario Cattaneo, Mario Cresci, Luciano D'Alessandro, Mimmo Jodice, Uliano Lucas, Lello Mazzacane, Carmelo Nicosia, Federico Patellani, Tino Petrelli, Francesco Radino, Marialba Russo, Ferdinando Scianna), taken from 4 photography collections, date from World War II to the early ‘90s and touch on issues such as rural life, mining, religious tradition, the cult of the dead, social exclusion and urban decay, the mafia, unemployment, children, icons of the South, objects of popular culture and the coastal landscape. The exhibition has also been conceived in relation to the city that houses the Museum, Cinisello Balsamo, a city on the outskirts of Milan that was heavily impacted by the industrialization process during the postwar economic ‘boom’, and by the massive immigration from the South that determined the its present identity .

Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea 13 April – 31 December 2014

Letizia Battaglia (Palermo, 1935) has worked as a photojournalist since the late ‘60s, documenting the miseries and splendors of Palermo, known internationally for her commitment to civil rights and battling the Mafia. In 1985 she received, along with Donna Ferrato, the Eugene Smith Award.

Antonio Biasiucci (Dragoni-Caserta, 1961) investigates, through dense and symbolic images, the themes of memory and culture in Southern Italy and more generally of antiquity, from cults to artifacts to volcanic landscapes, in search of the primary elements of existence.

Carmelo Bongiorno (Catania, 1960) is a photographer and teacher. His work is based on an emotional and sentimental use of the codes of photography, both black & white and color, in a constant dialogue with music, painting and video aimed at the transfiguration of reality.

Mario Cattaneo (Milan, 1916 – India, 2004) is a photographer belonging to that generation who, in the second half of the 20th century, found in amateur photography clubs a forum of expression and debate. His work deals with social reportage, lifestyle and portraiture.

Mario Cresci (Chiavari, 1942) is a photographer, graphic designer and teacher. One of the most innovative figures in Italian photography, he works in drawing, photography, video and installation, applying the culture of design to every type of visual language to construct new didactic experiences.

Luciano D'Alessandro (Naples, 1933) is one of Italy’s masters of reportage. He began as a photographer in the early ‘50s, collaborating with important Italian and foreign publications. He investigates important themes like work, the living conditions of the poorest members of society and religious rituals in Italy, Europe, the US, Cuba and Russia.

Mimmo Jodice (Naples, 1934), for years a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples and reference point for the culture of the South, is a master of Italian photography recognized worldwide. He studies landscape, historic and contemporary architecture and the myths of classical antiquity and the Mediterranean.

Uliano Lucas (Milan, 1942) is a leading Italian photojournalist. An astute investigator of the problems of contemporary society and scholar of the history of reportage, he has worked for major newspapers and volunteer organizations, combining his profession with social engagement.

Lello Mazzacane (Naples, 1950), for years a professor of the history of folk traditions at the University of Naples Federico II and one of the founders of visual anthropology, has dedicated himself to ethnography and anthropology, particularly in Campania, since the early ‘70s, focusing on photography and audiovisual tools.

Carmelo Nicosia (Catania, 1960), in addition to being a photographer, is chairman of the photography department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Catania. In an approach akin to visual anthropology, he works on the themes of memory and man’s relationship with history, not only through photography but through new media as well.

Federico Patellani (Monza, 1911 – Milan, 1977) was one of the masters of Italian photojournalism, recognized throughout Europe. A cultured and refined narrator, he bore witness to postwar Italy and its economic recovery, customs and cultural life, also working in film.

Tino Petrelli (Fontanafredda-Pordenone, 1922 – Piacenza, 2001) was one of the great Italian photojournalists. Active since the late ‘30s with the Publifoto agency, he documented the major issues of Italian society, such as WWII, the reconstruction, the economic boom and the ‘Southern question’.

Francesco Radino (Bagno a Ripoli-Florence, 1947) took up photography after studying sociology. One of the most important contemporary Italian photographers, he explores industry, cities, objects, animals and nature, looking for human stories in the landscape.

Marialba Russo (Giugliano-Naples, 1947) began as a photographer doing socio-anthropological research on religious rites and folk festivals in Southern Italy. At the end of the ‘80s she shifted her attention to a more intimate and analytical language that led her to investigate places and situations through a delicate and mysteriously autobiographical lens.

Ferdinando Scianna (Bagheria, Palermo, 1943) is a photographer, journalist and writer. Member of the Magnum agency, perceptive investigator of Southern Italian culture and human behavior, also active in the field of fashion, he is recognized as one of the most important social photographers in Europe.

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