“It’s a shame to win the war”
With these words Curzio Malaparte concludes his book “La Pelle”. This photo project entitled ‘the Skin’ is on misery and humanity and it has been inspired by his writing.
The writer, soldier, and reporter Curzio Malaparte is one of the most important Italian authors. In “La Pelle”, he narrated the effects of the Second World War on the civilian population, in particular the Neapolitans. At that time Naples was in ruins because of the recent bombardment and occupation first by the Germans and then by the Americans. Naples became a crossroads of multiethnic armies, forces that included Americans, English, Germans, Moroccans, Italians, and Neapolitans. All those ones were received by people with a bitter and at the same time hopeful smile, while hunger and a deep sense of shame pervaded the city’s streets.
People were poor, so poor to give themselves and entirely to religion, superstition even, before becoming so desperate to sell their souls. They seemed to be deformed by a fatal disease that Malaparte called the “Plague”. The writer’s poetics succeeds in transforming what is real into surreal, the cruelties of war into visionary images, taking the reader to an engaging and highly emotional atmosphere. I was inspired by this way of writing, I have transformed reality into surreal images, investigating the current degradation. The concept of the photo project is “Misery” the man and his falling in poverty.
The photo project” La Pelle” has been realized through several execution phases:
The first phase was the reading of the novel “la Pelle “ by Curzio Malaparte. This was very important moment both because of the subject and the register of photo project; the second phase has been an immersion in the world of the poor and the homeless. During this phase I have visited the places where these people go for eating, sleeping and spending their time. I befriended many of them and I have spoken with several social workers working with them. I have collected stories, carried out interviews, and observed attitudes, expressions, movements.
It was not my first experience working in extreme situations. As a photo reporter I have often photographed poverty, exclusion and oppression. Yet, this a different work. I have recounted misery through a surreal photo work.
“Misery” has always existed. There are populations that have been victims of oppression, wrong government policies, race persecution and conflicts. While living in misery, people feel life as exclusively aimed to satisfy their basic, biological needs – feeding themselves, sleeping, keeping themselves warm.
Without this, there is death waiting. In extreme poverty, human beings lose the awareness of themselves so as to protect their minds from fatal desperation: a sort of mute madness.