Photo by Letizia Battaglia. Courtesy Maxxi Museo.
Photography can truly be one of the most challenging fields of work there is. The mind of a photographer is unlike that of any other. It is a job that requires not only the trained technical skills, but also an eye for the immediate – the fleeting emotion of the moment. Deemed the “photographer of the mafia”, Letizia Battaglia takes the art of viewpoints and lifestyles beyond the surface to bring the lifestyle of her native Palermo culture to life for over 40 years. Battaglia’s exhibit at the MAXXI, Per Pura Passione, is a testament to her dedication to the art of photography and her Sicily.
For years I have been a fan of Battaglia’s true gift to capture the beauty, sorrow and violence of her surroundings. She has been featured in the photography edition of the Italian Journal magazine, under my direction. Her exhibit at the MAXXI museum truly lived up to her praise. With more than 40 years of retrospective installations lining the expansive walls, it is clear that she is not afraid to bring out even the most difficult of emotions in her work.
While many know her work for the gruesome murder scenes of their mafia, it is the massive array of Battaglia’s work in Palermo that encapsulates her strength. A testament to the tumultuous nature of her home city and the visual capacities that distinguish the essence of life there, the photographs featured are in essence a plea for change from hardship. From the judges and police that walk the streets of the city, to the innocent modishness of the young women of Palermo, there is an intrinsic development of bold freedom that accompanies every detail of Battaglia’s photographs.
To truly find and express the extreme contrasts of the city of Palermo and the history that follows can only be done by those who have the mindset to see the contrasts. During my visit I was deeply moved and taken aback because it was evident that the photographs were not only that of an artist, but also those of a fighter. Those who have the power to speak out and show truth to behest advantage are few and far between.
Brava to Battaglia and thank you for showing honesty to the world.