Matalena is a photographic project realized on the territory of Castrocielo (Frosinone).
The initial idea of the work was born from a photography campaign by Annie Leibovitz for Moncler, inspired by a Russian folk legend, “The Queen of Ice.”
After studying the research and books of Ernesto De Martino for a long time, such as “Sud e Magia” I decided to do a similar job in the area of Castrocielo. I was aware of many legends related to the country, but superficially.
The work lasted a year, in which the research part was fundamental. Many legends animated the territory, but they were all very vague and imprecise, some forgotten.
The initial part was based on the research and study of these legends. I interviewed the last people in the country who were aware of the events that happened at the time, or people who were able to experience them in person. I was very surprised when I discovered that many of them are still convinced of the existence of witches and other things.
My final intention was to represent the legends photographically in my imagination, but I wanted to be as faithful as possible to what was “reality”.
As mentioned above, I interviewed those few people who remained acquainted, and I searched for some books concerning the history of the country, and through De Martino’s studies I tried to give my personal interpretation to the different historical events.
I gathered many legends, some in minute detail others less. Some had disappeared forever with the people who knew about it.
I photographed the people who told me the legendary stories and the places where some mysterious events happened.
I was allowed to photograph objects that were used to hunt witches, and remnants of brigands passed through those lands.
Legends spoke of witches, magic books, houses haunted by presences, love potions, brigands and more.
As I went on with the research, the various photographs began to form in my mind. I wanted the atmospheres, the settings and the costumes to be as close as possible to what was the truth.
I researched archive photos of the eras when the legends were born, to study the costumes of the era that I then personally recreated for the various photographs. And when it was possible I photographed the places where they happened, or at least where it was thought that certain events took place.
The final result of the work, which lasted a year, were 9 photos where I personally reinterpret the various legends according to my imagination, and a part of research precisely, containing interviews, pages of books, archival photos and vintage objects, layout of the backstage and test shots.
Matalena is the title of the work.
Matalena was a poor old woman who lived in the upper part of my village, she was thought to be a witch and to kidnap children.
The brigands had the belief and custom of sacrificing children in the places where they hid their treasures, they believed that their spirit would be the treasure guard. It is thought that many innocent souls were taken away from the country by passing brigands.
Matalena was accused of the disappearance of children in the village.