Hello to the readers of this Bowdoin Sicilian Expedition blog. I’m Michael, a senior Romance Languages major, and a lot of my posts will focus on the representation of Sicily in tourism. After doing an independent study with Professor Gavioli last semester on the orientalization of Southern Italy and the country’s North/South Divide, and as a travel blogger, I’m interested in considering how historic prejudices against the island live on today.
On day one, we hit the ground running once we landed in Palermo, and after a visit to La Zisa, we went to a photo exhibit at the Cantieri Culturali where Letizia Battaglia’s work was on display. Battaglia is an Italian photographer who focuses on Sicilian life but is most famous for her work on the mafia. While the mafia is sensational in a lot of ways today, for so long its existence had been denied. Leonardo Sciascia was among the first writers to confront the mafia, and Battaglia has been similarly important in exposing it through her work.
The exhibit, located inside an old factory building, is striking as her black and white photographs hang in several rows from the ceiling. Guests wind up and down the aisles and disappear behind photographs, some harrowing and others light. Many pictures are disturbing, like this one of children holding guns, and I think they do a good job showing the real, lived consequences of the mafia in a medium different from something like The Godfather.