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The Book Column : Ciro Battiloro : Silence is a Gift


For seven years between 2015 and 2021, Ciro Battiloro immersed himself into the daily life of  neighbourhoods of Southern Italy : Rione Sanita in Naples, Santa Lucia in Cosenza, and Torre del Greco, where he was born. The delicate atmosphere and powerful black and whites of his photographs show another face of the Mezzogiorno. They are brought together in his first book, Silence is a Gift, published by Chose Commune.

If you stick to its image, Southern Italy is often synonymous with a certain exuberance, a constant bustle, a  chaos that is at times singing and colorful or difficult and violent. However, it is through the prism of silence that Italian photographer Ciro Battiloro chose to explore the region: “I did not want the socio-economic context to be at the forefront. By photographing these individuals in their daily lives, I hoped to provide a different vision, one turned towards life, carried by a profound sense of community and imbued with delicacy. The silence of the home, the silence of intimacy… these are things that touch me, as much in terms of beauty as of resistance, a resistance to the things that society imposes on us, whether it be violence or social disparities. »

Most of the photographs were taken indoors, in the intimacy of home. In the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom or on the doorstep, a mother dresses her child, a father feeds his son, a girl combs her hair while another plays with her mother. Here, the embrace reigns supreme. That between parents and children, brothers and sisters, that of two lovers, that of a child and his dog… the tenderness and complicity of family go from one body to another, from one gaze to another.

Siblings are playing but they also get bored, on the couch or on the bed, facing the mirror. Further away, a grandfather lights a cigarette. A mother lying down doesn’t seem to see her son. The eyes are fixed on the distance, lost in thoughts that remain inaccessible to us. For Ciro Battiloro, this books was about “telling a tale of love and solitude” as much as that of human existence, from childhood to death. Over the years spent with these families, he observed babies becoming teenagers, teenagers becoming parents, and parents aging, and even some passing away.

This theme of passing time with its slowness and silences is at the heart of the photographer’s practice. It is one of the reasons he turned to analog photography. More than an aesthetic choice, it is revealing of his approach: “with analog, my approach is slower. This technique involves a waiting time that is crucial to me because it allows for reflection.” This technique also enabled him to use textures and light to sculpt his characters, some of whom seem to come straight out of a film or masterpiece of art history.

A great sense of dignity emanates from each of them. For Ciro Battiloro, more than his images, this dignity mainly stems from their way of life, the resilience and resistance they draw from the beauty of daily life. A quiet strength that transcends them and to which the photographer wanted to pay tribute in this book, which he considers “a love letter to the people I have met.”


Ciro BattiloroSilence is a Gift
Published by Chose Commune, March 2024
Concept, editing and sequencing: Cécile Poimboeuf-Koizumi
Design: Cécile Poimboeuf-Koizumi, in collaboration with Perrine Serre
Text: Erri De Luca
92 pages, 22,5 x 25 cm, French / English / Italian
35 €
In all good bookstores and available online

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