I travestiti — fotografie a colori by Lisetta Carmi
Publisher: Contrasto Roberto Koch Editore
Published fifty years after the publication of I travestiti (Roma, Essedi, 1972) and a few months after the death of the author, it is a volume strongly desired by the photographer, with unpublished color photos of one of the most intense and important reportages in the history of photograph, found in her archive in 2017. These images make up a large and complete corpus that allows a new reading of Carmi's long work with the transvestite community of Genoa.
This publication, with a text by Lisetta Carmi, is edited by Giovanni Battista Martini and is enriched by texts by Juliet Jacques - journalist, writer and activist for LGTBQ+ rights who recounted in a memoir her experience of transition, of the writer and psychiatrist Vittorio Lingiardi and Paola Rosina who reconstructs the history of the book published in 1972.
At the end of 1965, for the New Year's party, Lisetta Carmi, thanks to a friend, was invited to a house of transvestites who lived and worked in the former Jewish ghetto in the historic center of Genoa. That same evening she begins to photograph them, starting a friendship and an acquaintance that continues until 1971. The following year Sergio Donnabella - for the Essedì publishing house created specifically for this book which had received the no of other publishers - , publishes the book I travestiti, a pink book halfway between an art book and an investigative book, explicit between harshness and sobriety, with texts by Lisetta Carmi herself and the psychoanalyst Elvio Fachinelli and graphic layout by Giancarlo Iliprandi. But the work on sexual identity contained in those pages seemed to most people too shameless and even just the choice of the title, which reveals an unacceptable stance, causes scandal. Many bookstores refused to sell it, so the volume became an editorial case and a moral scandal of the time.
Now Contrasto publishes the unpublished and unmissable work with a selection of 94 images in which the photographer tells the life of transvestites in an intimate and participatory way and, through them, also questions the role that society wants to impose on them. Carmi exploits the communicative power of color to bring out the truth, through the concrete physicality of his subjects. The search for truth is the supreme guideline of all his photographic practice. The photographs document the long preparation of make-up, hairstyle and dressing phases, from the images in bra and suspenders to the shot in which these people finally show themselves to the world as they would like to be welcomed. Being represented means existing, having bodies, faces, names. Carmi goes further, and photographs the transvestites who in pioneering times had set out on the transitional path for a walk around the city, outside the confines of the ancient Jewish ghetto which for too many of them was protection but also prison. They are the first step of a long and painful journey. Lisetta's goal restores their normality and beauty.