Curated by: Grasso, Walter Guadagnini
On Saturday 13 April 2019 at CAMERA – Centro Italiano per la Fotografia in Turin, the exhibition "Nel mirino – L’Italia e il mondo nell’Archivio Publifoto Intesa Sanpaolo 1939-1981" has opened to the public. The exhibition is the first major reconnaissance project on the extraordinary heritage of the Agency, acquired in 2015 by Intesa Sanpaolo which, through its own historical archive, has conserved, restored, studied and valorised it also with the support of experts, as on the occasion of this exhibition. The exhibition – produced by CAMERA together with Intesa Sanpaolo as part of the "Progetto Cultura", the Bank’s three-year programme supporting cultural initiatives – presents some of the crucial episodes in the history and chronicles from Italy and around the world over a period stretching from 1939, the year in which Vincenzo Carrese decided to name his agency "Publifoto" – founded in Milan in 1937 under the name "Keystone" – up to 1981, the year in which the founder passed away. Almost half a century of history told through some two-hundred images taken by the photographers of what was for a long time the most important photojournalism agency in the country. These were the golden years of photojournalism and, in order to highlight the close link between the images and the press of the day, the exhibition is put together following the model of an illustrated magazine, with sections dedicated to politics, current affairs, foreign affairs, lifestyles, society, culture and sport. Within these sections, the focus is on the events and figures that decisively shaped these years, and the stories which, also thanks to the skill of the photographers, went on to become an integral part of the collective imagination of the 20th century. As Aldo Grasso states, mass-mediologist and co-curator of the show: “the enormous heritage that Publifoto left behind provides us with a world which is not merely the stuff of history (1939-1981) yet which never the less, thanks to this exhibition, may be given a new lease of life and arouse the same emotions once more. The work of the photographer, in fact, is always two-fold: on one hand he ransacks yet on the other he conserves; he denounces yet at the same time consecrates. For this reason every collection of photographs in an adventurous journey, one also animated by the recollection of incredible undertakings, characters and appearances which maintain the great liveliness, the suspended and unrepeatable emotion of the gesture captured once and for all.” Among the numerous vicissitudes brought to light, in terms of historical, media or photographic relevance, we might mention the referendum and the proclamation of the Italian Republic in 1946, the consequences of the terrorist attack on Togliatti in July 1948, the crime stories of Rina Fort and the hostage crisis of Terrazzano, the flooding of the Polesine area, the tragic disaster that beset the Grande Torino team, the Beatles concert in Milan, the construction of the Italian motorway network and the protagonists of Cinecittà. An authentic journey through the history and chronicles, through the shots – some of which vintage, others reprints made from the negatives to be found in the Publifoto Archive – by photographers such as Carrese himself, Fedele Toscani, Tino Petrelli, Peppino Giovi, Carlo Ancillotti and other collaborators of the agency, some of whom remain unnamed. The first room of the exhibition is given over to the life of the agency, the everyday work behind the scenes, so as to immediately immerse the visitor in the heart of photo-reporting practices and highlight the many fields in which the agency operated, such as for example that of advertising. In this section, a number of original objects from the Archive will be displayed: chests of draws, envelopes containing the photographs split up by theme or by name, and collections of magazines: all objects which make it easier to understand the organisation of the work in an era still dominated by paper, in which the digital did not yet exist, which today has fully permeated this field too. The exhibition and the display are also an opportunity to analyse the relationship between photography and the press, and thus correctly interpret the very nature of these photographs, which were produced and used for very specific purposes, dictating not only technical rules, but also an aesthetic approach which had a key influence on the popular perception of the photographic language. Thus a 360-degree view of a phenomenon which shaped the very notion of communication and journalism in Italy after WWII. In order to underline the link with the modern day activity of the Archive, a number of photographic works will be displayed, created especially for the exhibition by the photographer Pino Musi, which represent and interpret environments and details of the Publifoto Archive in its current housing.