by Letizia Battaglia


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Mario Puzo wrote a book and Coppola made a film about the Mafia, but only Letizia Battaglia told the real story, the plain, harsh story. She told Vice that her mission was “to document everything that acted as testimony against the Mafia.”
Drago is proud to announce its new project: an anthology, curated by Paolo Falcone, of Letizia Battaglia’s extraordinary photographic work, from 1971 to 2016.
Letizia Battaglia (Palermo, 1935) is a Sicilian photographer and photojournalist. Although her photos document a wide spectrum of Sicilian life, she is best known for her work on the Mafia.
Over the years, Battaglia took some 600,000 images whilst documenting the ferocious internal war of the Mafia, and its assault on civil society. Battaglia sometimes found herself at the scene of four or five different murders in a single day. In a recent interview with CNN, Battaglia claimed that her “archives are full of blood” interspersed with images that capture the “immense beauty” of Sicily.
The Daily Beast wrote that her pictures capture “Mafia judges and police officers, many dead in their cars with blood so fresh it glimmers like water.” Yet some present daily Sicilian life with “young girls playing on the cobbled streets and wealthy women in fur collars sipping champagne.”
A large selection of her iconic black and white images will be presented in the catalogue, guiding the reader along a journey into one of post-war Italy’s darkest periods. Drawing from Battaglia’s personal archive the book also includes more recent projects. It offers a unique approach to her genre-defining photography (often linked to that of American ‘crime’ photographer Weegee) and a chance to reflect on the role of photography as an individual and collective means for taking action, bearing witness, providing evidence and documenting history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9788898565184
Publisher: DRAGO
Publication date: 09/01/2016
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 9.90(w) x 13.10(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range: 14 - 10 Years

About the Author

Letizia Battaglia is an Italian photographer and photojournalist. Although her photos document a wide spectrum of Sicilian life, she is best known for her work on the Mafia. Born in Palermo in 1935 and married at 16, Battaglia took up photojournalism after her divorce in 1971 while raising three daughters. Over the years, she has documented the ferocious internal war of the Mafia, and its assault on civil society, often finding herself at the scene of several different murders in a single day. Together with her long-time partner Franco Zecchin, she has produced many of the iconic images that have come to represent Sicily and the Mafia throughout the world. In a recent interview with CNN, she described her extensive collection of photographs as an “archive of blood.”

For several years, Battaglia stopped taking pictures and officially entered the world of politics. From 1985 to 1991 she held a seat on the Palermo city council for the Green Party and from 1991 to 1996 she was a Deputy at the Sicilian Regional Assembly for The Network. During this time, she was instrumental in saving and reviving the historic centre of Palermo. She has also run a publishing house, Edizioni della Battaglia, and co-founded a monthly journal for women, Mezzocielo. She is deeply involved in working for the rights of women and, most recently, prisoners.
In 1993, when prosecutors in Palermo indicted the long-serving Italian politician, Giulio Andreotti, the police searched Battaglia’s archives and found two 1979 photographs of Andreotti with an important Mafioso, Nino Salvo that he had denied knowing. Aside from the accounts of turncoats, these pictures were the only physical evidence of this powerful politician’s connections to the Sicilian Mafia. Battaglia herself had forgotten having taken the photograph. Its potential significance was apparent only 15 years after it was taken.
In 1999 she received the Photography Lifetime Achievement of the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography. In 2007 she received the Erich Salomon-Preis, a ‘lifetime achievement’ award of the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie (DGPh) and the most prestigious prize in Germany. In 2009, she was given the Cornell Capa Infinity Award by the International Centre of Photography.

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