About two years ago we talked about the photographic project Realpolitik: La terza Repubblica by Luca Santese and Marco P. Valli. The book published by Cesura Publish showed a complete and true portrait of the Governo Conte through close-ups of politicians, the faces of the participants in the demonstrations, but also small details that manage to capture the political and social atmosphere of the country.
Once the Realpolitik project was over, Luca Santese and Marco P. Valli did not lose interest in the world of Italian politics but decided to concentrate all their artistic research on a single character, perhaps the most emblematic, Matteo Salvini.
This choice stems from the fact that they recognized an innovative character in the language adopted by the leader of Lega who, in a certain sense, deprived photographers of the possibility of doing their job. In fact, if in the past the representation of politicians was entrusted to photographers, in Salvini’s case it was he who produced images of himself, ending up self-representation, or appropriating images of others using them to his own advantage.
The two photographers are no strangers to this practice. One of the photographs in Realpolitik showing Salvini in the foreground was chosen as the cover photo for an issue of Time in which the leader of Lega was criticized. Despite the tone and arguments of the article, Salvini decided to use that same shot on several occasions.
Driven by the desire to regain possession of their role and to give back to the public organic documentation of Salvini’s political activity, Luca Santese and Marco P. Valli have created a new volume entitled “Il corpo del Capitano“, always published by Cesura Publish.
Adopting a style characterized by the use of black and white, which contrasts with the aesthetics of Salvini’s communication, the photographers dissect the Captain’s body capturing small parts, from fingers to mouth, from beard to eyes, and then continue this analysis with the objects that are now part of the multifaceted Salvinian figure, from the crucifix to the T-shirts with printed inscriptions.
For the cover of the book, the same photo that appeared on the time but emptied of the eyes was chosen: Salvini’s face becomes a mask, referring to the politician’s ability to embody dozens and dozens of different roles.
In the end, however, a question arises spontaneously and it is the same one we find at the beginning of the book: “To whom, then, does the Captain’s body belong? To Matteo Salvini, to everyone, to no one”.