Benrubi Gallery is pleased to announce I Am Nothing, Valerio Spada’s first exhibition with the gallery. I Am Nothing explores the Sicilian Mafia, telling the stories of some of its bosses and members who are fugitives from justice, together with the signs of its inexorable penetration into the fabric of society. In 2011, he produced a photo series called Gomorrah Girl, where the story of the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, is told through the lives of young women.
Since this success, Valerio Spada has continued researching organized crime, focusing on the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra. The result is a project based on a narrative approach that differs from the traditional canons of reportages, combining different subject matter and media. As a result, in this exhibition you will find:scenes of everyday life, which convey how deeply this phenomenon is involved in everyday behaviors; carefully posed portraits, which allow us to come close to the leading figures in this universe in a moment of dialogue; a video of the capture of long time fugitive Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano, filmed by the police; a large image of Giovanni Brusca giving evidence in a high-security courtroom at the Milan courthouse; the photographic documentation of the Bible found in Provenzano’s hideout, full of codes which the FBI and eminent theologians believe could conceal the last secrets of the mafia.
As Roberto Saviano wrote: “I am a Mafia boss but I am nothing. I make decisions on life and death but I am nothing. I am nothing because I am just like you. I move among you. I live among you. I believe in your God. I use the same objects that you do, but in a different way. I use my typewriter to write messages of death. The photo series by Valerio Spada, I am nothing, is deeply disturbing because it shows the silence that surrounds the mafia, the capacity of organized crime to penetrate our daily lives and our total inability to defend ourselves against it.”
Valerio Spada (b. 1972, Milan) is an Italian photographer living in New York. In 2011 Gomorrah Girls won the Photography Book Award Now as best book of the year. Gomorrah Girl was included by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger in The Photobook: A History Volume III, published by Phaidon, and it is now part of the Beneicke Rare Books & Manuscripts collection at Yale university. In 2013 Valerio Spada was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to finance his continuing research into organized crime in Italy.
I Am Nothing is the book resulting from his latest project and was published in 2017 by American publisher Twin Palms.