The Moreira Salles Institute, having inaugurated the exhibition in its branch in Rio de Janeiro at the end of last year, shows until September Palermo of the Italian Letizia Battaglia in its offices in São Paulo.
Letizia Battaglia started shooting late, almost 40 years old, when society was expecting her to be “a good mother and a good wife”. From there, she did not stop to capture images of her city, Palermo, in black and white and for years. Braving the very masculine and sometimes violent environments that were sometimes denied her because she was a woman, she mainly photographed in the 70s and 80s, while the capital of Sicily was dominated by mafias, and its streets. undermined by poverty.
“Palermo has suffered too much,” she says in Francesco G. Raganato’s documentary dedicated to her in 2012. And if it is this suffering that she stages in her photographs, through the harsh life of the streets , the revolts and social struggles that animate the city, and even through images of the dead (often triggered by the violence of mafia gangs), her images are paradoxically extremely alive. They emit a feverish energy, portraying Palermo in an almost cinematic way – so close do they seem to see each other extended by movement and sound.
Because Letizia Battaglia has “always felt a relationship of anger, anger and sweet despair” towards Palermo, she has not stopped photographing it, but she has also invested herself beyond her photography – already extremely engaged. Having acted for her city politically (participating in anti mafia struggles, at the Spring of Palermo, or working as a member of parliament), at the heritage level (fighting for the preservation of the historical center of the city), the photographer is now also involved in social and cultural issues for Palermo, where she recently opened a center dedicated to photography, where actions aimed at teaching and distribution of the medium.
Her attachment to Palermo and her struggles, she will explain by the “bitter love” relationship she has with the city. It is probably this love tinged with bitterness that has pushed her to throw herself into the harshest and hardest of the Sicilian capital and to translate it in a way so human and expressive.
Palermo, Letizia Battaglia
From April 27 to September 22, 2019
Instituto Moreira Salles
Avenida Paulista, 2424