There are countless ways to tell a story, for example, a photo exhibition. What I want to talk about is the close of the period dedicated to the 150 years since the unification of Italy and brings a clear reference in the title: “The Thousand. Click for a History of Italy“, evoking the company of Garibaldi and his men. But do not think I want an indigestible, historic-patriotic brick.
The Thousand are a thousand images from the photography section of the CSAC (Communication Studies and Archives Centre) at the University of Parma and recount our 150 years through a research-anthropological anthology developed as a five-part narrative: landscape, portrait, work, rituals, history. It is very evident in all sections, the setting is almost always marked chronologically, changing in the way of “seeing”, composed and symbolized through the images within the various historical periods, together with social changes.
The Landscape section begins with the first photographs of Alinari, Brogi, Sommer and others, who with their studies begin to outline the image of the Italian countryside to feed the national spirit. The journey continues with views of the new Italian landscape of the ’30s, thanks to a popular Touring Club built by Bruno Stefani, landscapes suspended between realism and abstraction by Nino Migliori, the turn on the way to look at Ghirri.
The same “modus” is also in the Work section: the first images of the Orlandini Studio of Modena half at 800, to the ’30s, always of Stefani, and then the images of White (Cuchi, not Margaret Bourke-W) on the rural world of the South, the “abstract-texture” of Mario Giacomelli, the more contemporary vision of Lucas.
Together with Landscapes, the Portraits section is definitely the most interesting. It contains images where it is easy to follow the transformations of portraiture models from the mid-30s to mid-40s of the twentieth century, to more avant-garde research (for the time) of photographers in the 50s and 60s is pushed deeper into the South to record the many faces of Italy and the many people who live there. But it also means more social work is portrayed, the photographers, Carla Cerati, G. Gardin and others are interested in the work of Franco Basaglia, went inside the mental hospitals to give visibility to those who inhabit them. The ’70s saw the birth of a new portrait, once anthropological research and of living (a young Gabriele Basilico, Dachshund brothers and others). An interesting series of studio portraits of Paola Mattioli and our still “ingessatissimi” politicians.
The Rituals section, realized thanks to the fact that the CSAC owns all of the archive of images Publifoto, contains interesting observations on the rituals of contemporary society, from politics to youth protests, an analysis of the function of ethno-anthropological photography as well documented by the series The Game of the Crescent Franco Pinna or beautiful images by Mimmo Jodice with his Popular Party in Campania.
It closes with History, which already after the first images settles a slap in the face of the now tired visitors with photographs of the revolt of Milan in 1898, before moving to the victims of the bombing of the Second World War and the announcement of the fall of Mussolini; by the earthquake in Friuli, worker and student movements of the 70s, up to the G8 in Genoa in 2001. Lucas, Colin, the great Carlo Cerchioli and Guglielmo Esposito are some of the photographers of this section.
Beautiful and endless.
“I Mille. Scatti per una storia d’Italia” – Palazzo del Governatore, Parma – from 14 april to 10 june 2012 – Free entrance