The Museo di Roma in Trastevere dedicates an exhibition to the travels in Italy of photojournalist Lou Dematteis

The Museo di Roma in Trastevere presents on display from December 6, 2023 to March 24, 2024 more than one hundred shots by photojournalist Lou Dematteis that he took during four trips to Italy from 1972 to 1980.

From December 6, 2023 to March 24, 2024, the exhibition Lou Dematteis. A Journey Back/Un viaggio di ritorno (Photographs in Italy 1972-1980), an exhibition project dedicated to the photographs taken in Italy by Lou Dematteis (Palo Alto - California, 1948), an American photojournalist of Italian origin. Curated by Claudio Domini and Paolo Pisanelli, the espoziation is promoted by Roma Capitale, Assessorato alla Cultura - Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali, is produced and realized by the cultural association Errata Corrige, in collaboration with Big Sur, OfficinaVisioni, Cinema del reale, with contributions from Fondazione Home Movies-Archivio Nazionale del Film di Famiglia, Archivio Audiovisivo del Movimento Operaio e Democratico, Archivio Franco Pinna, Book Ciak! Magazine, and under the patronage of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Zètema Progetto Cultura museum services.

More than one hundred photographs on display, most of them unpublished, recounting four trips Dematteis made to Italy in 1972, 1977, 1979 and 1980. The photographic images on display were selected from the thousands taken by the photojournalist in Italy and reproduced mostly in the form of silver salt prints.

During those four journeys, Dematteis traversed Italy far and wide, touching not only the countries of origin of his paternal grandparents, between Piedmont and Liguria, but also the cities of Milan, Venice, Bologna, the coasts of Romagna, Florence and Tuscany, Rome, Naples and the Amalfi Coast, Lucania and Calabria, pushing as far as Sicily. It was a Grand Tour tackled solely by train, which the exhibition seeks to restore to the public both chronologically and geographically, to also highlight the process of rapid transformation of Italian society in those years. Through that experience, Dematteis also has the opportunity to verify the effectiveness of photography as a form of communication and political action, to adopt it as a professional and life choice in the immediately following years, when he will become a photojournalist for the Reuters New Pictures agency.

Dematteis’ Italian photos document not only a nearly decade-long cross-section of our society, but also the gaze of a young American, of radical ideas and in conflict with the political choices of his home country, who seeks answers in his own anagraphic origins. Thus, in these shots one finds the essence of Italy at that time, the “official” one, the popular battles for rights and life in the streets, the everyday life of ordinary people, social rituals, the factory and the school, black labor and labor in the fields. Therefore, in addition to the historical document, with a photojournalistic flavor, there is also the emotional document, the way we were, the consciousness of what has been irretrievably lost.

The entire exhibition will be accompanied by the words of beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in short excerpts from his verses and diaries. Like Lou Dematteis, with whom he was a good friend, Ferlinghetti often reflected on his relationship with his Italian roots. Also present will be a short documentary film made for the occasion by Paolo Pisanelli and Matteo Gherardini, which intends to recount through the author’s words his professional and human affairs, and the “journeys back” to his second homeland.

Image: Lou Dematteis, Palermo 1980

The Museo di Roma in Trastevere dedicates an exhibition to the travels in Italy of photojournalist Lou Dematteis
The Museo di Roma in Trastevere dedicates an exhibition to the travels in Italy of photojournalist Lou Dematteis

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