Curator's Choice: Federica Chiocchetti on nudity, Fiats, Martin Parr's scrapbooks and 1970s Italy

By Ben Miller | 31 October 2014

Curator's Choice: Co-curator Federica Chiocchetti on Italian 1970s photobooks from the Collection of Martin Parr featured in Amore e Piombo

A photo of a woman looking at a display case inside a museum
“As a further narrative layer in the exhibition, which features Italian press photography from the now defunct Rome-based agency Team Editorial Services, we decided to include a selection of 1970s Italian rare photobooks from the Collection of Martin Parr.

They present workers protesting; policemen, factories, students demonstrating and nudists enjoying music festivals.

A black and white photo of people holding up peace placards
Conscientious objectors demonstrate (1976)
Because they are less known in the Anglo-Saxon world, the idea was to offer the viewer further incredible material in dialogue with the press collection.

Aldo Bonasia’s The Uniformed Self seems a classical reportage in praise of the police force. However, the images have been paired with a very peculiar text: a 1952 Italian Police Encyclopaedia that reveals an hilariously narrow-minded and bigoted mentality.

For example, at the entry ‘masturbation’, it says that it’s a lethal and immoral vice that sometimes can lead to precocious death – so lurking behind an allegedly innocent  and traditional black-and-white photobook there is a very subtle and ironically deeper narrative around the mentality that was still very present in the 70s.

A black and white photo of a dead figure covered by a blanket on a street next to a gun
Red Brigades ambush and kidnap Aldo Moro, via Fani, Rome (March 17 1982)
The 1899–1974 75 Anni Fiat catalogue is a homage to the Fiat factory and, together with IGNIS 25, one of the most amazingly designed factory catalogues.

Produced in celebration of the company’s 75th anniversary in 1974, this book’s colour-tinted pages, dynamic graphics and heroic texts are reminiscent of avant-garde Soviet propaganda publications like USSR in Construction.

Beneath the grey cover of IGNIS’s 25th anniversary corporate book, an unexpected burst of colour erupts in more than 80 double page spreads of modern factories, workforces in freshly laundered boiler suits, staff canteens, recreation spaces and social housing.

Personally, the most amazing photobook encounter was the Parco Lambro Festival book about the sixth and last edition of the music festival, in 1976, when almost 200,000 people attended in the outskirts of Milan.

A black and white photo of police leading a man in a winter coat through a crowd
Police escort Piazza Fontana bombing accused Pietro Valpreda to court, Rome (1972)
Apparently the facilities weren’t enough, and the political tension got very intense, so what started as a very peaceful and hippy festival degenerated into violence and lootings.

What’s interesting about this photobook is that the imagery doesn’t reveal the whole story, mainly portraying naked young Italians, dancing and enjoying the music.

It’s only when you read the introduction by Marisa Rusconi that you find out about the violence of the event.

The über small book No Images, by feminist photographers Paola Mattioli and Anna Candiani, relates to the Italian Divorce Referendum of 1974.

A black and white photo of a man and a woman carrying placards on a street
Pro-divorce demonstration in advance of the 1974 divorce referendum
It’s a typically Italian complicated situation because if you wanted to keep the divorce law you had to vote ‘NO’ to the referendum – which is counterintuitive.

In the Team agency collection the word ‘NO’ is a very recurrent pattern in the placards of the protestors.

During the 1970s people were protesting for all sorts of causes: from a very universally understandable ‘no to violence’, and ‘no to fascism’, we also found photographs of a protest against imported French wines, where the placard says ‘no to sophisticated wine’.”


Images © Grazia Neri / Asa Press / Team Editorial Services / Alinari, courtesy The Archive of Modern Conflict.


Click on the picture to launch a gallery from the exhibition

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