Letizia Battaglia: Photography as a life choice

From the 20th of March to the 18th of August the striking images of award-winning photoreporter Letizia Battaglia will be exhibited at Casa Tre Oci, Venice
Vicino la Chiesa di Santa Chiara. Il gioco dei killer, 1982, Palermo © Letizia Battaglia

[quote_regular name=”” icon_quote=”no”]Photography as a life choice[/quote_regular]

A title that has two meanings: photography as a driving force through one’s existence, but more importantly photography as a medium to portray life. 

To describe Letizia Battaglia’s work it is necessary to take a glimpse into the amazing achievements she reached both as a photographer and as a woman: she is, in fact, one of the first Italian women who approached the world of photo-reporting. 

From 1974 to 1991 she was part of the photographic team of Palermo communist newspaper L’ORA; she also founded Informazione Fotografica, which later became visited by other photographers such as Josef Koudelka and Magnum Photos artist Ferdinando Scianna.

In 2000 she founded Mezzocielo a bimonthly curated only by women.
In 2009 she was awarded with Cornell Capa Infinity Award and in 2017 she was nominated as one of the most representative women of the year by the New York Times.

Born in Palermo in 1935, mother of three daughters, she got into photography to accompany her articles, when lately she found herself smitten with film. Her pictures describe vividly a land she knows well: the way she portrays those terrible years of mafia wars, the gruesome deaths, is unseen before. Since the very beginning of her career her pictures have been capable of eternalise Sicilian beauty and horror, a dichotomy masterfully represented also by her very contrasted black and white images.

– Letizia Battaglia, Il Presidente della Regione Siciliana, Piersanti Mattarella, democristiano, fratello di Sergio Mattarella, attuale Presidente della Repubblica è stato appena colpito a morte da killer mafiosi, davanti alla moglie e alla figlia. (Prima di una sequenza), 1980, Palermo © Letizia Battaglia

Silence pervades both her pictures and the viewer, who gets lost for words while admiring the heart-wrenching brutality of the reality she portrays. 

As previously said, Battaglia’s work captures the dichotomies of a conflicted land: she portrays violence, but never forgets to bring hope into her work. Palermo misery is accompanied by the splendour of its traditions, it shines trough the eyes of its inhabitants, whose portraits are a synonym of resistance. 

Lunedì di Pasquetta a Piano Battaglia, 1974 © Letizia Battaglia

Women and men, children and animals are important chapters of her work; life, love and death are entwined like in everyday life, since that is the one and only subject of Battaglia’s work, as she said

[quote_regular name=”” icon_quote=”no”]“I experience photography as a document, as interpretation and more […]. I experience photography as salvation and as truth.”[/quote_regular]

While she says this she uses the word vivo (I live), since photography is, for her, a driving force that goes beyond mere observation, it is real life permeating every inch of the photographic paper. 

Il Tempio di Segesta, 1986 © Letizia Battaglia

From the 20th of March to the 18th of August a beautiful selection of her work will be exhibited at Casa Tre Oci, in Venice. The exhibition, curated by Francesca Alfano Miglietti, presents 300 images, some of which have never been displayed before. 

To find out more about the exhibition click here.

To read other articles on photography click here.

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