Accepted Paper:

Photographing the Mafia or how to photograph something that doesn't exist?   

Author:

Deborah Puccio-Den (CNRS-EHESS)

Paper short abstract:

My talk will focus on Letizia Battaglia and Franco Zecchin, two photographers who constituted a new iconography of the Mafia. Their work allows us to follow the multiple transformations of anti-Mafia photographs: from tools supporting the mobilisation, to pieces of evidence, now turned into art objects.

Paper long abstract:

In the seventies, in Italy as in Sicily, the existence of the Mafia was no more than a conjecture. Some judges were trying to prove that the Mafia was a criminal organisation, while activists were denouncing its negative effects by demonstrations and other forms of protestation. One of these - the one that I want to stress - was the anti-Mafia photography. Because the Mafia was a secret society, to capture images of the "Mafiosi" was a declaration of war, fighting with what the force of the Mafia was: its ability to hide and infiltrate society surreptitiously. Because this photography showed scenes of poverty, degradation, social inequality and political corruption, it created a new semantic field of what the Mafia "really" and "objectively" was. My talk will focus on Letizia Battaglia and Franco Zecchin, two photographers who, through their twenty years experience, constituted a new iconography of the Mafia. Their work allows us to follow the multiple transformations of anti-Mafia photographs: from tools supporting the mobilisation, to pieces of evidence, now turned into art objects. I will conclude by drawing a comparison between their adventure and what it means to photograph the Mafia nowadays, using as an example, Mauro d'Agati, a photographer of Neapolitan Camorra.

Panel P049
What are we talking about when we talk about the Mafia? Futures of a contested term