Looters, Photographers, and Thieves: Aspects of Italian Photographic Culture in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Working toward an analysis of how photography has contributed to the construction of an Italian 'type' to serve the mandates of the new nation in the 1860s, this book engages writers and photographers who have attempted to address this in their works. From Giovanni Verga and Italo Calvino to the conceptual visual works of Tommaso Campanella in words and Luigi Ghirri in photographs; from the Arcadic gaze of Baron von Gloeden to the revolutionary vision of Tina Modotti, the works analyzed in this book have all been major contributors in the shaping of our contemporary visual education. While I am mostly concerned with Italy, the ideas that populated this work are globally applicable and relevant. Works on the photographic image that engage the specificity of representation related to specific groups, race, ethnicity or gender have found, in the isolation of images by thematic terms, an eloquent ground for specific visual formations. Looters, Photographers, and Thieves seeks to contribute to this fascinating discourse and the constantly evolving realm of figurative possibilities it opens up. This books is a locus for the collection and accumulation of images produced in the shaping of notions of citizenship and cultural relevance in nineteenth and twentieth century Italy. The arguments and images of each chapter thread through each other to propose ways by which to approach disparate subjects and forms in order to envision photographers as seers rather than gazers. Working beyond solidified terms of reference in both photography and literature toward more fluid and open spaces, I have chosen photographers that are quite unlike each other in their craft and ideologies: Tina Modotti, Giovanni Verga, Baron von Gloeden, Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine all are seen as contributors in shaping a particular vision of their world that remains relevant in ours.. Given the fact that much of the photography considered within the pages of this book is in dialogue with, or the product of, national or colonial programmatic agendas, it is only fair to ask what potential spaces for intervention upon them might remain if this is not done outside of established disciplinary bounds.
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