Valerio Spada Gomorrah Girl

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‘Gomorrah Girl’ and ‘I am nothing’ are the main series produced by the young photographer Valerio Spada. Thanks to the first series, he made himself known throughout the world in 2011, while he has recently brought the second to a close thanks to the support of a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation in New York. Both revolve around the study of the most typical and yet obscure aspects of the major Italian criminal organizations: the Neapolitan Camorra and the Sicilian Mafia. And yet these are not mere reportages, but combine truth and storytelling, diary and theatre, both candid and staged photography. They are cinematographic fiction raised to the level of judiciary truth. And vice versa.

Francesco Zanot, Curator, announcing Camera Centro Nazionale per la Fotografia Valerio Spada exhibition, November 2016.

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The Camorra is the Neapolitan Mafia, whose name was transliterated to Gomorrah for the well-known 2008 film by Matteo Garrone, and also for Valerio Spada’s book about the decaying neighbourhood of Scampia in Naples. Gomorrah Girl is a two-part, multi-level book, firstly about a crime and then about the social conditions in a city slum in which the Mafia is all pervasive and exploitative.

The crime was the death of the fourteen-year-old Annalisa Durante, who was caught in the crossfire of a Camorra-related shoot-out.

Spada takes scans of the police report on the event: crime-scene photographs ballistic analysis and so on. There is a portrait of the victim’s background in the second edition of the book, which is on a different paper size, interleaved between the pages of police evidence.
This second edition concentrates upon social conditions in Scampia, and mainly upon the ‘Gomorrah’ girls, young women who are forced by poverty and crime to grow up before their time. Some of them end up as prostitutes working for the Mafia, some become addicts on drugs supplied by the Mafia and some become mothers at fourteen – or all three.
Spada’s book – self-published, stapled together, a brilliant combination of the rough-hewn with the exquisite – is a memorial for a dead girl, a cri de coeur for vulnerable young women and a penetrating examination of the social ills resulting from a corrupt and rotten political system.

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Martin Parr and Gerry Badger
The Photobook: A History, Volume III – Phaidon 2014

Gomorrah Girl’ and ‘I am nothing’ will be exhibit in november at Camera, Turin, curated by Francesco Zanot.

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All images © courtesy of Valerio Spada

www.valeriospada.com