MAY 16TH – JULY 18TH 2014


The Emmeotto gallery, in partnership with the Artistocratic, is glad to present the exhibition Sicilia Mondo(literally “Sicily World”) by Ferdinando Scianna, hosted by the display areas of the historic building of Palazzo Taverna from May 16th to July 18th 2014.

Ferdinando Scianna, the first Italian photographer to enter the prestigious agency Magnum Photos and a winner of the Nadar Prize, talks about “Sicilia Mondo”. “For almost half a century, my personal story has been leading me to live outside Sicily. Indeed I knew, with a deep sense of shame, that I had escaped from Sicily, from that Sicily [...]. Then, little by little, over the years, I have realised that you never completely leave Sicily; you cannot annihilate such a dramatic sense of belonging within yourself”.

The works on display represent the customs of the island, its almost carnal beauty, its contradictions, which emerge with amazing intensity already in his works dating back to the Sixties. Scianna portrays the Sicily of religious ceremonies, so deeply rooted in the heritage of this island, where the artist finds himself bewildered among impressive pilgrimages, like those to the Sanctuary of Trecastagni for the Saints Alphius, Philadelphus and Cyrinus, or those to Baucina, where an endless procession takes place at night to celebrate the prodigious Saint Fortunata. And those to many other Sicilian villages, among magnificent and intense rites. Photography is the ideal tool to describe reality and the words of Leonardo Sciascia – a great friend of Scianna, who defined him a “born photographer” – describe the identity of Ferdinando Scianna as a reporter: “His photography is a rapid, almost meteoric organisation of reality, a catalytic transformation of objective reality into photographic reality: as if, by virtue of an instantaneous magnetism, everything he puts his eyes and turns his zoom lens on obeyed, in that very moment, neither before nor after that, his own feelings, his own will and, ultimately, his own style.”

The photojournalist approach has always been underlying Scianna’s art, even when, back in the Eighties, he found himself being a fashion photographer for the shots portraying Marpessa, a model and the muse of the Dolce&Gabbana advertising campaign that he realised. A new, revolutionary fashion photography was born: Scianna “exhibits” the model in the context of everyday life, at first “with a certain sense of guilt”, as this means altering reality and infringing Henri Cartier-Bresson’s teaching, “Never stage the world”. Then, he realises that this allows him to create new stories, which can be narrated through his reports: “I have never photographed fashion, but a woman wearing certain clothes [...] fashion is not an object once you put it into the world [...] fashion photography becomes a sort of meta-theatre of reportage photography”.

This exhibition features a journey through images which testify to Scianna's great talent for narrating places and cultures, for watching as a reporter and showing as a narrator. A metaphor of his job as a photographer and a reporter, which has led him to travel and collect images. A journey throughout the world, which started from Sicily to bring him to the US big cities -New York and Los Angeles– and from there to further-away destinations, to discover the games that children play in Benares. And more places, covered by a blanket of snow: the nearby Po Valley or the more distant Osaka, where the landscape, the things, the people undergo a transmutation thanks to the photographer's ironic gaze.

Finally, Scianna's memory goes back to his Sicily, as a fundamental concept emerges from his own words: “that Ithaca that you left, that is no more there, that no longer exists, because in the meantime it has changed and still lives in your memory only”.


CINEMA CORSO, BAGHERIA | 1961 | Carbon print on cotton paper | cm 78x62 | Courtesy of Artistocratic
BENARES, INDIA | 1997 | Carbon print on cotton paper | cm 62x78 | Courtesy of Artistocratic
MARPESSA, IBLA | 1987 | Carbon print on cotton paper | cm 50x73 | Courtesy of Artistocratic
NEW YORK, USA | 1985 | Carbon print on cotton paper | cm 62x78 | Courtesy of Artistocratic
OSAKA, GIAPPONE | 1971 | Carbon print on cotton paper | cm 62x78 | Courtesy of Artistocratic
FESTA DI SANT’ALFIO, CIRINO E FILADEFO, TRE CASTAGNI | 1963 | Carbon print on cotton paper | cm 50x73 | Courtesy of Artistocratic
VENERDI’ SANTO, ENNA | 1963 | Carbon print on cotton paper | cm 160x110 | Courtesy of Artistocratic