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The Book Column: Lina Pallotta : Porpora


Porpora Marcasciano, a prominent figure in trans activism in Italy, allowed herself to be photographed in her daily life by her friend Lina Pallotta. Pallotta has now published this intimate and poetic portrait in the book “Porpora,” a visual embodiment of the slogan “The personal is political.”

A militant, writer, and sociologist, Porpora Marcasciano (born in 1957) has been involved since the 1970s in the struggle for the recognition of the rights of trans individuals. She was particularly active within the MIT Movimento Identità Trans [Trans Identity Movement], long the sole group representing this cause.

Lina Pallotta began photographing Porpora Marcasciano in the 1990s. The two women had been friends since their university days in Naples years earlier. Between urban views and landscapes of the Italian countryside, candid images show Porpora ethereal, moving through her everyday environment.

During this time, Lina Pallotta instinctively captured her surroundings. She initially had no specific idea in mind when photographing the activist. Gradually, she realized that these photographs could be significant: “They offer another vision of the trans community, which was photographed quite trivially at that time, in my opinion.”

The photographer quickly felt the desire to create a book to tell Porpora’s story. “The book is the ideal form for photography, the one that leaves the most space for discourse,” she says. It is also, in her view, the best way to inscribe an image in time. In this case, Lina Pallotta anchors Porpora in history: the book concludes with a selection of over 150 archival documents from Italian LGBTQI+ associations, providing context for Porpora’s struggles. “In Italy, activism is often associated with gay and lesbian movements. I wanted to show how trans individuals also fought for their rights.” The book also includes four texts addressing the trans issue from various angles—marginality, activism, and art history.

By showcasing both the intimate and daily life aspects and the activism of the trans experience, “Porpora” becomes an essential historical and political testimony of the trans community’s history in Italy.


Lina Pallotta – Porpora
Nero Editions, 2023
English edition
22 x 28 cm, 276 pages
ISBN: 978-88-805620-5-4
32 €
Available in good bookstores and online

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