Edition 2016

Winner of the 2015 Photo Folio Review

Piero Martinello


I am a force of the past. Tradition is my only love. I come from the ruins, and churches, and altarpieces, the abandoned villages on the Apennines or on the Prealps, where brothers have lived. Like a madman I wander on the Tuscolana, on the Appia like a dog without master.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Poesia in forma di rosa, Garzanti, Milano 1964.

Piero Martinello has travelled around Italy in search of women and men who, each in their own way and for diff erent reasons, have embraced unconventional life paths. Town fools, ravers, criminals, saints, devout and cloistered nuns… They are outcasts, outlaws or simply outsiders occupying the fringes of society. All of them come to life in Radicalia, a concept album arranged as a wall mosaic of household genealogies and a five-chapter book. Here the photographic medium appears either in its pure form or in vernacular photography items (passports, holy pictures, and mug shots, among others). 

An anthropological assemblage of characters and traits, Radicalia echoes August Sander’s The Last People portfolio from People of the Twentieth Century. Like its protagonists, it is eccentric and uncompromising at heart. Above all, it transmits a raw authenticity and a familiarity that bespeaks our collective age-old roots. Its typology is put to work via an Italian-folklore parade of individuals and anecdotes on the tainted relation between doctrinaire thought, deviation, and stigma.

There is something ecstatic in the expression of these heretics—a driving force of genuine devotion, passion, and eversion emanating from another world. Their portraits turn into relics of both a sacred and profane past on the verge of extinction. 

Amidst the popularised and homogenised subjectivities of our times, little is left to today’s reactionaries. Perhaps just to remain confined in the illegible realm of their spirit. For, when it comes to being photographed, there is no way back. Photography by definition unveils the ‘photogenic’ face—a face with no other option than being naturalised within a determined system of stereotypical representations. As soon as this happens, the fi erce beauty of Martinello’s subjects is canonised as the by-product of an avid visual mythology destined to eradicate and perpetuate the rule patterns of the collective consciousness. This is the bitter oxymoron that Radicalia performs: the literal extinction of Sander’s ‘last people’.
Natasha Christia

With support from YellowKorner.
Art direction: Lorenzo Fanton.
The project was made possible by the LUZ Fellowship that LUZ Photo Agency granted Martinello in November 2012.
Visual contributions by Enrica Casentini, Alberto Gobber, Luca Zamoc, Patrick Waterhouse, Ramon Pez and Alberto Sola.
Prints by Fineart Connection, Castelfranco, Italie.
Framing by Genoveso Cornici, Schio.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture