An outstanding figure in Italian photojournalism, Federico Patellani is known for the travel reportages he realized for major Italian and foreign magazines. The America Pagana collection comprises a powerful photographic reportage made by Patellani in 1956 – and then published in installments in “Epoca” in 1957 – on a long journey through the countries of Central America to shoot the documentary of the same name in collaboration with Aldo Buzzi: a journey of 10.000 kilometers through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador. Starting out from Vera Cruz, the reportage, and with it the documentary directed by Patellani, retraces the development of the Mayan civilization, showing its places and people, illustrating its monuments and evoking its history: a thorough investigation of the variegated panorama of the Spanish-speaking countries that passes, as Buzzi put it, “from a democracy to a dictatorship, from a country that has abolished its army to their inhabitants, Indians, whites and black descendants of the workers on the Panama Canal.”

America Pagana is a symbol of how photography and cinema long represented an inseparable combination for Patellani. As far back as 1943 he had declared in his famous essay Il giornalista nuova formula: “If what I believe is true, that speed is the key to good modern photography, if I am correct in my aspiration to take photographs that look alive, relevant and vibrant, like the stills of a film usually are, then it seems to me that the inspiration for photography today has to be found in the cinema.” And yet is also true that Patellani, as he was fond of saying, preferred the solitude of the photographer to the teamwork required by the cinema.

Property of the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Contents 481 prints

Dating of works 1956

Authors Federico Patellani

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