Drago is excited to present its latest project, an anthology meticulously curated by Paolo Falcone, showcasing the extraordinary photographic journey of Letizia Battaglia spanning from 1971 to 2016. Hailing from Palermo, Italy, Letizia Battaglia (born in 1935) is a distinguished Sicilian photographer and photojournalist. Her remarkable contributions to the world of photography earned her the esteemed Lifetime Achievement award from the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie (DGPh) in 2007.
In 1974, Letizia began her career as a photographer for the L’ORA newspaper in Palermo. She was the first European woman to receive the Eugene Smith Award in New York in 1985 and The Mother Johnson Achievement for Life in San Francisco in 1999. In 2007, she was awarded “The Erich Salomon Prize.” In May 2009, Letizia received the “Cornell Capa Infinity Award” in New York. She has also been recognised in the list of 1000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
While Letizia’s photographic portfolio captures the diverse tapestry of Sicilian life, she has gained international recognition for her courageous work documenting the Mafia. In acknowledgment of her profound impact, The New York Times hailed her as one of the eleven most influential women of 2017 in the feature article, “A Sicilian Photographer of the Mafia and Her Archive of Blood.”
Sicilian blood and Sicilian beauty
Mario Puzo penned a book, and Coppola brought the Mafia to the big screen, but it was Letizia Battaglia who dared to reveal the naked truth – the stark, unfiltered reality. She once told Vice that her mission was “to document everything that stood as a testament against the Mafia.”
Throughout the years, Battaglia accumulated an astonishing 600,000 images while chronicling the brutal internal strife within the Mafia and its relentless assault on civil society. There were moments when Battaglia found herself at the grisly scenes of four or even five murders in a single day. In a recent interview with CNN, Battaglia starkly declared that her archives are “saturated with blood,” interspersed with images that capture the “profound beauty” of Sicily.
Iconic black and white photographs
The book features a substantial collection of her iconic black and white images, guiding the reader on a journey into one of post-war Italy’s bleakest eras. Drawing from Battaglia’s personal archive, the book also encompasses more recent projects. It offers a unique perspective on her genre-defining photography, often likened to that of the American ‘crime’ photographer Weegee, and an opportunity to contemplate the role of photography as both an individual and collective instrument for taking action, bearing witness, providing evidence, and documenting history.
The Daily Beast aptly described her pictures as capturing “Mafia judges and police officers, many dead in their cars with blood so fresh it glimmers like water.” Yet, amidst these stark portrayals, some of her photographs also depict everyday Sicilian life, with “young girls playing on the cobbled streets and affluent women in fur collars sipping champagne.”
Printed in Italy