"Letizia BATTAGLIAs new book, 'Anthology', shows brutal murders as well as the beauty of her native Sicily.
'The Godfather' and 'The Sopranos' may have romanticized the mob and created a whole genre of gangster movies, but Italian photographer Letizia BATTAGLIA doesn't find the topic all that entertaining.
'Americans love The Sopranos. They don't believe the Mafia is like (they see on TV), but the Mafia is dangerous like ISIS,' BATTAGLIA said. 'When I see ISIS soldiers, I feel like they are a little bit like Mafiosi. They don't give a damn about life. The Mafia doesn't give a damn about anything but their interests and money and don't care who they hurt along the way.'
BATTAGLIA has seen the devastating effects of organized crime and corruption firsthand.
The 81-year-old Sicilian photographer Letizia BATTAGLIA has spent her career photographing the innocent -- and not-so-innocent -- victims of Mafia murders. 'My archives are full of blood,' she said. 'But I have also seen such immense beauty in the regular, complicated daily life in Sicily.'
BATTAGLIA has culled the best of her 600,000-strong archive for her book 'Anthology', and hopes her book will shed light on the real Mafia, not the one seen in movies, she told CNN in an exclusive television interview.
Brutality leavened by hope BATTAGLIA's photos of brutal murder scenes are interspersed with photos of young girls and Sicilian women who give her hope.
'Anthology# closes with a photo of her daughter in the throes of labor. She took the picture the day after she photographed a heinous and bloody Mafia murder scene in 1995. 'There were not a lot of sweet moments in my life during those years,' BATTAGLIA said. 'When my granddaughter was born, it gave me hope.'
Next year (2018), she will open an exhibit to showcase what she refers to as 'the immense talent' of photography, art, poetry and sculpture in Sicily. 'This has always been my dream, to open such a center in the place where I have seen such ugliness and such beauty, and to defy the 'ugly wealth' that comes with the price of extreme poverty,' BATTAGLIA said, referring to the sacrifices regular Sicilians have had to make because of the Mafia.
BATTAGLIA should know about sacrifices. She came of age in Palermo during the bloodiest period of Italy's battle with the Mafia, at the time when the syndicate was expanding its illicit trades in drugs and weapons.
She married a wealthy older man at the age of 16, had three daughters, then left him and moved to Milan in 1971 when her children were grown.
She got a job as a journalist, fulfilling her dream of becoming a writer. 'I proposed articles and they said, 'and the pictures?' ... So I bought a camera,' BATTAGLIA said.
BATTAGLIA was never formally trained as a photographer, yet she has won dozens of international awards for her work. Social media Three years after she started taking pictures, an anti-Mafia, anti-Fascist newspaper offered her a job back in Palermo to shoot Mafia crimes. 'I was so happy to go back to my hometown of Palermo and be a photographer,' BATTAGLIA said. 'But I didn't know the Mafia was so ferocious. It was terrible. I was there in Palermo, with my camera, and I forgot about being a writer.'
BATTAGLIA spent the next four decades trying to find the balance between the bloody crimes and the beauty of Sicily. 'Anthology' seeks to bridge that gap with photos of young women and girls alongside photos of mostly dead men.
'My archive is full of dead people,' BATTAGLIA said, adding that even today when the phone rings, she assumes it means something terrible has happened. 'Now if I think about that sentiment, I feel nausea. To meet death, such violent death, is terrible.'
Friends killed BATTAGLIA recalls the cold-blooded murders of judges, including Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two anti-Mafia judges she knew well.
Their deaths in 1992 came to symbolize the island's struggle with organized crime. 'The best judges, the best policemen, the best people were killed. Some were friends,' BATTAGLIA said. 'I can't accept that this happened. I can't finish my life accepting this. I want love. I want beautiful things. I want a normal life. That's what my photos were fighting for.'
BATTAGLIA's photos have come to represent the collective memory of that violent period, said John DICKIE, author of several Mafia books and a professor of Italian Studies at University College in London. 'There was an exponential increase in Mafia violence around the time when Letizia BATTAGLIA started,' DICKIE said, describing an influx of drug money as the Sicilian Mafia developed its hold on global heroin trafficking. 'hat, he says, fueled the Mafia's arrogance against anyone who stood in its way.
'Sicily was really becoming a narco-state, and she had the kind of humanity not just to photograph the politicians and the dead bodies, but to register the impact of all that daily familiarity with death, especially on the children,' DICKIE said. Called into court Anti-Mafia judges sit in a courtroom in Sicily in 1981.
Eventually, BATTAGLIA's photography and fearlessness put her own life at risk. But it also made an impact on how authorities dealt with organized crime. When then-Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti was accused of Mafia collusion in 1993, authorities subpoenaed BATTAGLIA's archives for photos of him with famous Mafiosi. They found two photos that provided the only physical evidence that linked him to the Mafia, though the charges did not stick and Andreotti was absolved of all crimes. 'I was afraid sometimes, like when violence was against me or when they called me or when they wrote a letter against me to say that if you don't go away from Palermo, you will be killed,' BATTAGLIA said. 'But fear is not important like democracy and beauty.'
BATTAGLIA said that while there are fewer deaths at the hands of the Mafia, the power of the organized crime syndicate is still present in Sicily today. 'It is the same, maybe even worse perhaps.' BATTAGLIA said. 'The Mafia is now more powerful than before. Before it was savage, they killed. Now they are in politics and financial life. This is not only blood ... it is corruption.'" (PUBLISHER'S TEXT)
"Letizia BATTAGLIAs neues Buch 'Anthology ' zeigt brutale Morde und die Schönheit ihrer Heimat Sizilien. The Godfather und The Sopranos haben vielleicht den Mob romantisiert und ein ganzes Genre von Gangsterfilmen geschaffen, aber die italienische Fotografin Letizia BATTAGLIA findet das Thema nicht so unterhaltsam.
"Amerikaner lieben die Sopranos. Sie glauben nicht, dass die Mafia so ist (sie sehen im Fernsehen), aber die Mafia ist gefährlich wie ISIS ", sagte BATTAGLIA. "Wenn ich ISIS-Soldaten sehe, fühle ich mich, als wären sie ein bisschen wie Mafiosi. Das Leben ist ihnen egal. Die Mafia interessiert sich nur für ihre Interessen und ihr Geld, und es interessiert sie nicht, wen sie auf dem Weg verletzen. «
BATTAGLIA hat die verheerenden Auswirkungen von organisierter Kriminalität und Korruption aus erster Hand erlebt. Die 81-jährige sizilianische Fotografin Letizia BATTAGLIA hat ihre Karriere damit verbracht, die unschuldigen - und nicht so unschuldigen - Opfer von Mafia-Morden zu fotografieren.'Meine Archive sind voller Blut', sagte sie. 'Aber ich habe auch eine solch immense Schönheit im regelmäßigen, komplizierten täglichen Leben in Sizilien gesehen.'
BATTAGLIA hat für ihr Buch 'Anthology' das Beste aus ihrem 600.000 Mann starken Archiv zusammengetragen und hofft, dass ihr Buch die wahre Mafia beleuchten wird, nicht die, die man in Filmen sieht, sagte sie CNN in einem exklusiven Fernsehinterview.
'Anthology' schließt mit einem Foto ihrer Tochter in den Wehen; BATTAGLIA Machte das Foto, nachdem sie 1995 eine abscheuliche und blutige Mafia-Mord-Szene fotografiert hatte. 'Es gab in diesen Jahren nicht viele süße Momente in meinem Leben', sagte BATTAGLIA. 'Als meine Enkelin geboren wurde, gab es mir Hoffnung.'
Weitere Fotobuchtitel von/über Letizia BATTAGLIA:
'Passion Justice Freedom' (1999)
'Dovere di cronaca' (2006)
'Just for Passion' (2016)