Parallel Eyes

by Alessia Rollo

“Parallel Eyes” is a multimedia project that reconsiders Southern Italy in visual and sociological terms and proposes a contemporary reinterpretation of its identity.
Between 1950 and 1960, the South was studied and visually classified by a group of anthropologists, directors and photographers who, following Ernesto De Martino, ventured to document a South that was mostly unknown to the rest of Italy. The investigations are focused mainly on ritual events and ceremonies: the rationalist and positivist use of the photographic medium collaborated to deform and flatten the social and symbolic richness of the southern cultural system.
The result of the diffusion of these works generated the belief of a backward culture, dominated by irrationality and religion. The images extrapolated from these archives produced by photographers and videomakers belonging to the “scientific expeditions” of the past constitute the first part of my research. To rehabilitate the magical ritual present in the photographed practices but absent in the images created by photographers, I decided to intervene on the images using photographic techniques such as digital and analogue manipulation, painting of negatives or photo perforation.
The other is photographic documentation that I created on the rituals that still exist in Southern Italy. For 3 years I traveled to all the regions of southern Italy in islands to discover the rites that have survived over time, selecting them following the trend of the pagan origins that accumulated them.
My aim is not to create a new anthropological catalog of celebrations but to build a different visual narrative in order to change the perception of our past and build a new imagination of our future. Also in this case I worked on the images using different photographic techniques to create an evocative and non-logical-rational atmosphere that evokes the need to participate in ceremonies to feel and not want to understand them rationally.
Halfway between a study of modern visual anthropology and a documentary project, Parallel Eyes has the desire to open new perspectives, decolonize studies on Southern Italy and in general on what Western culture considered in the past as marginal or peripheral cultures.
The narrative is built on the rhythm of suggestions and not explanations: the images are linked together by associations coming from symbolic connections between divinities and rituals. In this circular vision the intention is not to recreate a taxonomic project but to “re enchant the world”.