Breaking the Code of Silence

Sicilian photographer and photojournalist Letizia Battaglia isn’t one to shy away from difficult subject matter in her art.

Schifani

Source: © Letizia Battaglia

Schifani

In a career that began in the mid 1970s, Battaglia has amassed an archive of more than  600,000 images, many of which show the ‘Sicilian mafia’s violent reign of tyranny,’ according to Open Eye Gallery, which is hosting an exhibition of her work from this week.

 L'arresto del boss Leoluca Bagarella, 1980

Source: © Letizia Battaglia.

L’arresto del boss Leoluca Bagarella, 1980

The show, entitle Breaking the Code of Silence, looks to present these hard-hitting works, as well as offering a more general exploration of photographer’s role as ‘an individual and collective means for taking action, bearing witness, providing evidence and documenting history’, according to the gallery.

Omicidio Nerina

Source: c Letizia Battaglia

Omicidio Nerina

Battaglia fell into photography having started out as a journalist, discovering that her articles were more likely to be published when accompanied with images.

Gallina sul tavolo

Source: C Letizia Battaglia

Gallina sul tavolo

A thread running throughout her work is her conflicted relationship with her native Italy, shown through frequently bleak, arresting images of violence and death.

Images include graphic depictions of women and children affected by Mafia intimidation.

Palermo, 1982. Nerina worked as prostitute and was drug-dealing. She was killed by the mafia because she did not respect the rules

Source: © Letizia Battaglia

Palermo, 1982. Nerina worked as prostitute and was drug-dealing. She was killed by the mafia because she did not respect the rules

The Open Eye Gallery show presents work from the mid-1970s until the early 1990s, with images selected to show not just the violence and despair of the period, but also the affection Battaglia still feels for Italy.

 Letizia Battaglia: Breaking the Code of Silence runs from 22 February – 4 May at Open Eye Gallery, 19 Mann Island, Liverpool Waterfront L3

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