Photograph by Letizia Battaglia of two youths lounging near the ruins of the temple of Segesta
Our visit to the exhibit of Letizia Battaglia’s photographs at the ZAC Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa on our first day in Palermo was the first exposure I had to the incredibly complex nature of Sicily. Battaglia’s art captures beautifully the inherent disconnect between the romanticized ancient world and the gritty reality of Sicily today. Her images of mafia victims and the realities of daily life in Palermo in the last quarter of the twentieth century really spoke to me. It is easy to get lost in the romanticized ancient culture of the Mediterranean and to forget the reality of the society it exists in and informs now. I was incredibly moved by her unabashed documentation of human nature surrounding tragedy and injustice, as well as her eye for capturing the quotidian and making it as beautiful and attention grabbing as an ancient temple or a beautiful baroque cathedral.