Alfredo Jaar, ‘Letizia’, 2017

‘Avanti!’ la Battaglia Continua

A tribute to Letizia Battaglia, the Mafia photographer who past away April 2022 with works by:

Gijs Assmann, Merijn Bolink, Santi Caleca, Olga Chernysheva, Marlene Dumas, Pauline Curnier Jardin, Alessandro Guerriero, Afredo Jaar, Marion Kalter, Susan Meiselas, Sylvia Plachy, Lia Pasqualino, Maria D. Rapicavoli, Dayanita Singh, Shobha, Emo Verkerk and Franco Zecchin

11 March – 13 May, 2023

Also in the Netherlands it is known: Mafia is everywhere. In the years 2002 to 2006, Holleeder was found guilty of a.o. ordering the murders of John Mieremet, Cor van Hout, Willem Endstra and Kees Houtman. As we speak the Marengo trial is ongoing: 17 people are indicted for various murders and attempted murders. The head of this gigantic drug cartel was arrested in Dubai in 2019, Redouan Taghi. In addition to the well-known executions within the Mafia environment, the list of victims also includes key witnesses, a lawyer and a journalist. The Dutch police and judiciary have consulted colleagues in Italy, where they have been dealing with the mafia for decades.

In Italy, and especially in Sicily, in the period roughly between 1970 and 1995, people were killed on a daily basis by organized crime: executions within the Mafia, but also prosecutors, journalists, judges and police officers.

On January 17, 2023, the big mob boss Matteo Messina Denaro was arrested. Responsible for at least 50 murders, the most notorious of which were the assassinations of investigating judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992.

In 1992, Letizia Battaglia made perhaps her most famous photo: Rosaria Schifani, the widow of Vito Schifani, one of Giovanni Falcone’s bodyguards, who was killed as collateral damage in the execution of Falcone, along with his colleagues and Falcone’s wife, Francesca Morvillo. An intimate portrait with eyes shut, one half of the face in daylight, the other half in the dark of the shade.

Letizia Battaglia (Palermo 1935 – 2022) worked as a photo reporter for the left-wing daily newspaper L’Ora in that period and thus recorded the many accounts of the Mafia. She became famous for her photographs in which she documented the crimes of the Mafia. She recorded the ‘years of lead’ in Sicily. Many of her photos became famous, not because of their horror, but because of the often well-framed and, above all, human approach that characterize her photos. Battaglia once said: “If the photo didn’t work out, you’re probably too far away.” She therefore used a 35 mm lens, so that she had to be at arm’s length from the subject, at a the distance of a caress, as she herself called it. And it is precisely this closeness that gives her photos that humanity. Her photos are also characterized by the contrast of light and darkness. She liked to increase that contrast when printing in her own darkroom.

Battaglia herself did not escape threats and had to leave the city for a year in 2005 as instructed by the mayor of Palermo. Letizia Battaglia, the fighter of justice and peace passed away in April 2022.

LANGart has been representing Letizia Battaglia’s work since 2003. Over the past decades the interest in her work has only been growing among a large audience. Letizia Battaglia’s photos, her actions and her passion for justice and freedom have inspired many artists. That is why LANGart proudly presents a tribute to Letizia Battaglia: 17 artists in a group exhibition at the gallery. Artists who have worked or lived with her or to whom Battaglia has become a source of inspiration for their own work: Gijs Assmann, Merijn Bolink, Santi Caleca, Olga Chernysheva, Pauline Curnier Jardin, Marlene Dumas, Alessandro Guerriero, Alfredo Jaar, Marion Kalter, Susan Meiselas, Lia Pasqualino, Sylvia Plachy, Maria D. Rapicavoli, Dayanita Singh, Shobha, Emo Verkerk, Franco Zecchin.

The exhibition ‘Avanti! la Battaglia Continua’ will be opened on Saturday 11 March, 2023 by Hedy d’Ancona (The Hague, 1937), former minister of a.o. culture, sociologist, social geographer and feminist. The exhibition will be on display until 14 May, 2023. A catalogue has been made for this exhibition, designed by Rebrandt. A previous collaboration with Rebrandt has resulted in the Red Dot award.