Bonaventura/Imbriaco/Severo Corpi di Reato

01 I Giocatori di Carte, Galleri1a degli Uffizi, Firenze, 2010

Card players, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, 2010 Card players was painted by Italian artist Bartolomeo Manfredi in the 1620’s. The painting was severely damaged in the night between May 26 and 27, 1993 by the esplosion of 250 kg of TNT placed in a van parked in Via dei Georgofili, at the bottom of one of the towers of the gallery. The bombing, which killed 5 people, wounded 38 and caused huge damages to the building, was made by Cosa Nostra together with other terrorist acts across Italy in the early ‘90s. The attacks were aimed at key figures of the war against Mafia and against crucial places of the Italian cultural heritage. The strategy was meant to undermine the credibility of the institutions and to force the State to negotiate with the clans.

02 Fascicoli del maxiprocesso 1986-1987, Corleone, Palermo, 2012

Files of the Maxi Trial 1986–87. Corleone, Palermo, 2012 Held between 10 February 1986 and 16 December 1987 in the bunker courthouse of the Ucciardone Prison in Palermo, the Maxi Trial against Cosa Nostra prepared by the anti-Mafia pool founded by Antonino Caponnetto saw 474 defendants charged, 119 tried in absentia, 2,665 years of imprisonment for the 360 convictions, as well as 19 life sentences given to several bosses, including Michele Greco and the fugitive Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano. The first-instance trial required 349 hearings over a period of 22 months, 35 days of in camera hearings and 6,901 pages for the formulation of the reasons for the verdict. The successive instances of judgement continued until 1992. The files of the trial are housed in the International Centre for Documentation on the Mafia and the Anti-Mafia Movement (CIDMA), in Corleone.

03 Veduta di Corleone, Corleone, Palermo, 2012

View of Corleone, Palermo, 2012. For around forty years Corleone was the stronghold of the Corleonesi clan, who waged the bloodiest Mafia war against the Italian state in the 1980s and ’90s.In a court hearing in December 1992, Mafia turncoat Leonardo Messina described the rise of the Corleonesi:"They seized control of the system by elbowing their way in. They took power by slowly, slowly killing everyone. The problem with these men is that they had everyone killed, often by us. Some people killed their brother, others their cousin, because they thought they would take their places. Instead, slowly, they gained control of the whole system. The structure’s the same but it's their men, that nobody voted for, who are in power."

04 Discarica abusiva sotto sequestro, Desio, Monza e Brianza, 2012

Illegal dump under sequester, Desio, Monza and Brianza, 2012. In 2008 the Monza prosecutor’s office discovered an illegal waste trafficking operation in Desio, conducted in a 3,000-square-metre area that had previously been purchased by affiliates of the Iamonte-Moscato Calabrian clan. The land in the Via Molinara area, in which the presence of various types of toxic waste is suspected, is still under sequestration while awaiting funding for decontamination.

05 Vista dalla casa di Franco Coco Trovato, Galbiate, Lecco, 2014

Vista dalla casa di Franco Coco Trovato, Galbiate, Lecco, 2014 Franco Coco Trovato was one of the bosses of the ’ndrine of the provinces of Lecco and Milan between the 1980s and ’90s. A Calabrian who relocated to the province of Lecco in the 1960s, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1992. His home in Galbiate has become a day centre for the elderly run by the “L’Arcobaleno” co-operative.

06 Bar, Via Giulio Cesare, Roma, 2013

Bar, Via Giulio Cesare, Rome, 2013 The Cami Cafe in Via Giulio Cesare, a few steps from Vatican City, was seized by the Italian police in 2009 because the management was linked to Vincenzo Alvaro, one of the bosses who runs business activities for the Calabrian Mafia in Rome. Over the past few years tens of shops and bars have been seized by police in central Rome, where organised crime runs a wide network of money laundering activities.

07 Circolo ARCI

Falcone e Borsellino" Leisure and Cultural Club, Paderno Dugnano, Milan, 2012. The twenty-two bosses of the Lombard 'ndrine met here on 31 October 2009 to elect Pasquale Zappia as the new representative of the Lombard 'Ndrangheta. Their meeting was filmed by the police during the Operation "Infinito" investigations.

08 Armadio di Antonio Schiavone, Casal di Principe, Caserta, 2013.

Antonio Schiavone's wardrobe, Casal di Principe, Caserta, 2013 This hideaway concelead behind a shutter wardrobe was found during the seizure of the apartment belonging to Antonio Schiavone, brother of Francesco, the boss of the Camorra Casalesi clan. The apartment is on Via Bologna in Casal di Principe, opposite to another property belonging to the Schiavone family.

09 Via Salieri, Buccinasco, Milano, 2012

Via Salieri, Buccinasco, Milan, 2012. In 2005 two bazookas were found close to Via Salieri, which, according to the reconstruction of the police investigation, were intended to be used by members of the local 'Ndrangheta to blow up deputy prosecutor of Milan Alberto Nobili’s car. Buccinasco is one of the strongholds of the 'ndrina Barbaro and Papalia, whose main activities are linked to the earth-moving and construction across the region of Lombardy.

10 Scampia Vista copy

View of the Scampia district, Naples, 2013. “Le vele” (the sails) is a housing project built between 1962 and 1975 in the Scampia neighborhood of Naples. Over time it has become a centre for drug dealing and various forms of illegal activities carried out by many criminal families. This view was taken from an apartment on the top floor of G unit in Via Labriola, mentioned recently by investigators as the base of operations of criminal activities by the Vannella Grassi clan.

11 Campione di terra contaminata. Castel Volturno, Caserta, 2013.

Contaminated soil, Castel Volturno, Caserta, 2013. The sample was collected by technicians of the Regional Agency for Environmental Protection in Campania (ARPAC) along Via Veneto in Castel Volturno, in the so-called “Terra dei Fuochi” [land of fires]. Used for the first time in the Ecomafie Report in 2003, the expression “Terra dei Fuochi” indicates a vast area between the provinces of Naples and Caserta, marked by a high level of soil pollution and frequent burning of vast quantities of waste, illegally dumped by the Camorra. A report by the Regional Agency for Environmental Protection in Campania (ARPAC) from 2011 cited an area of around three million square meters seriously threatened by the substantial presence of dioxins and leakage from abandoned waste.

12 Salone del Castello Mediceo di Ottaviano, Napoli, 2012

Hall of the Castello Mediceo in Ottaviano, Naples, 2012. The castle has around 360 rooms. In these rooms boss Raffaele Cutolo’s sister, Rosetta, kept the accounts detailing the money extorted by the bosses of the various zones and arranged for legal and economic aid to the families of imprisoned members. She also kept a detailed list of members in a niche carved into one of the castle’s walls and hidden by a painting.

13 Vista di Bardonecchia, Torino, 2014

Vista di Bardonecchia, Torino, 2014 Nel 1995 Bardonecchia è diventato il primo comune del nord Italia commissariato per infiltrazione mafiosa, dopo la scoperta del coinvolgimento del boss della 'ndrangheta Rocco Lo Presti nella costruzione del complesso edilizio Campo Smith, un residence per vacanze invernali. Nato in provincia di Reggio Calabria, Lo Presti era stato trasferito a Bardonecchia nel 1963 sotto regime di soggiorno obbligato per sospetta affiliazione mafiosa. Per circa quarant'anni Lo Presti ha ampliato la presenza dei clan calabresi nella regione, infiltrandosi nell'autotrasporto, nella ristorazione e soprattutto nell'edilizia e nella fornitura di manodopera illegale. Nel 1972 viene raggiunto da Francesco Mazzaferro, uno dei principali boss calabresi che hanno operato in Piemonte. Insieme hanno continuato a espandere l'influenza dei clan utilizzando il riciclaggio di denaro, l'usura e l'intimidazione. Condannato una prima volta nel 1982 per il rapimento e l'omicidio di un imprenditore edile, Lo Presti è morto nel gennaio del 2009, il giorno dopo la conferma di una condanna definitiva per associazione a delinquere di stampo mafioso finalizzata all’usura.

14 Via Boito, Giussano, Monza e Brianza, 2012

Via Boito, Giussano, Monza e Brianza, 2012 The “Infinito” Maxi Trial against the 'Ndrangheta families that had infiltrated Lombardy revealed that the family of the boss Antonio Stagno owned several apartments, which were home to various members of the clan and used for the meetings of its leaders.

15 Vista dal balcone della casa di Gaetano Badalamenti, Cinisi, Palermo, 201

View from the balcony of the house of Gaetano Badalamenti, Cinisi, Palermo, 2012. The head of Cosa Nostra in the 1970s, Badalamenti died in a US prison in 2004 while serving a 45-year sentence for drug trafficking. In 2002 the Italian court had sentenced him to life imprisonment for the 1978 murder of political activist Giuseppe Impastato. His house in Cinisi was donated to the Impastato Centre in 2010.

16 Foce dei Regi Lagni, Castel Volturno, Caserta, 2012.

Regi Lagni Estuary, Castelvolturno, Caserta, 2012. The Regi Lagni are a close network of artificial canals covering an area of over 1,000 square kilometres, mainly in the provinces of Naples and Caserta. Designed by the Bourbons in the seventeenth century as an irrigation system based on the drainage of the waters of the river basin, connivance between the Camorra and the local authorities has transformed it into a system to collect the polluted waters illegally discharged in the canals.


A different season

by Fabio Severo


Depicting the Italian mafias today poses the problem of what image to attribute to a phenomenon that has changed its face over the years, following decades of bloody struggle against the State. The scenario is drastically different now, and for years this has been reflected in the changing strategy of the criminal organisations. There is talk of a mafia that has almost stopped killing, as it mingles among civilian society and prospers in a grey area where the signs of its presence cannot be sought merely in violence. Thinking about how the mafia has been documented in photographs over the years inevitably brings to mind the pictures by Letizia Battaglia, the most striking example of a visual chronicle and denouncement of the most violent period in the history of Cosa Nostra. Corpi di Reato (Bodies of Evidence) was born out of the need to seek a new image of the mafias in order to capture in photographs the sense of the changing epoch in which we live. Letizia Battaglia’s pictures represent a here and now, an accumulation of traumatic events that go to make up a picture of permanent conflict. Now that those arms have been partially laid down and the confrontation with the State has changed arena, it is necessary to give a new meaning to the depiction of the territory and the documentation of events. Rather than a series of events, there is a need to show the state of things, the set of conditions that characterise the forms of widespread presence of the mafias throughout Italy. Invisible mafia, white mafia, liquid mafia: many different definitions have been used over the years to indicate these new forms of existence. Information itself on the mafia has long appeared fragmented, far removed from the front pages in an age of a steady stream of episodes rather than great tragic events. However, this work does not pretend to be an examination or an investigation of events, but is instead an expression of the need to gather some of them together, helping to isolate them from the confusion of the news, and allow them to exist for a moment in the same place. It uses them as a map for travelling in Italy, connecting different events to each other to connect different parts of the country to each other. It is a journey through Italy through the signs of mafia presence, through their visibility or invisibility. Viaggio in Italia (“Journey through Italy”) is also the title of the famous book published in 1984 and curated by Luigi Ghirri, which subsequently became the manifesto of the Italian landscape school. That collective work of photographic exploration of the country was spawned precisely 5 by the need to rethink the depiction of the landscape, revealing the allure of the anonymous everyday nature of the places depicted, far removed from the picturesque beauty and monumentality of the cities. “The problem was thus to approach the landscape as an unknown and therefore emarginated, excluded place”, Carlo Arturo Quintavalle wrote in his comments at the beginning of the book. “A quest for a marginal, ambiguous fake, dual Italy, a substantially excluded Italy, which is nonetheless the only Italy we know.” Corpi di Reato also begins by recalling the lesson of Viaggio in Italia, as summed up in the words of Quintavalle: following the traces of the mafia in our country means seeking forgotten places, which have almost disappeared; it means encountering the anonymous streets of the cities and provinces where today’s mafia bosses live like normal citizens; or returning to the past, in the Castello Mediceo of Ottaviano, where the family of Raffaele Cutolo ruled like kings thirty years ago, in an age in which bosses flaunted their power. Memories live side by side with the present in the places explored, in the objects and in the landscape. It is photography’s task to distinguish and compare them. Ghirri’s lesson was the rediscovery of astonishment for the anonymous places encountered on an itinerary with no fixed route. Travelling in search of the signs of mafia presence, on the other hand, sometimes means seeking a precise place – that street corner, that cornfield, that shutter – and then finding yourself looking at immobile spaces, at nothing; it means attempting to represent absence, emptiness. In this case remembering cannot mean commemorating, but becomes a testimony of the transfiguration of things, the verification of the existence of a sign referring to what has happened. The landscape sometimes appears scarred, at others indifferent: it may reveal or it may lie, and it is the job of the photographer to depict its ambiguity. The scar of the illegally built housing on the Pizzo Sella hill overshadows Mondello like a corpus delicti, whilst the setting sun over the Regi Lagni of Castel Volturno hides the poisons discharged into the watercourses of the region. One feels the need to reveal the sound that produces this immobility, to observe it in order to discover the tiniest movement, to the point of trying to escape the fixed nature of photography by using video as well, employing the moving image to try to suggest how a place may have appeared prior to the extraordinary event that has marked it forever, depicting oblivious everyday life before it is swept away. Corpi di Reato aims to continue exploring the many outer city areas in Italy, outskirts that are geographical but also mental: places situated on the edge, frequently forgotten episodes that have lost their meaning, victims of oblivion that has made them eternally present, as though devoid of history.


All images © courtesy of Bonaventura/Imbriaco/Severo