Title : come eravamo
Photographer(s) : Adriano Mordenti, Massimo Vergari
Writer(s) : Rosanna Fiocchetto
Designer(s): Adriano Mordenti
Publisher(s): Savelli editore, Roma, Italy
Year : 1975
Print run :
Language(s) : Italian
Pages : 96
Size : 21,5 x 30 cm
Binding : Softcover
Print : Printed by Tipografia della Savelli, Roma, Italy
Nation(s) and year(s) of Protest : Italy, 1968
Interview with Adriano Mordenti
Rome September 15, 2020
I'm in Adriano Mordenti's home studio in Rome, surrounded by his memories of years spent photographing the world's conflicts, from Greece to Israel and the Roman demonstrations. He tells me about his images that appear in the book - Come eravamo - published by Savelli in 1975.
Adriano, tell us how this book came about?
First of all I would like to say that I didn't like the title at all, I would have preferred "remember Valle Giulia"
I would have preferred "Remember Valle Giulia," which compared to "How we were," which speaks of a period in the past, is more of a slogan for Valle Giulia, which wanted to be inside the facts; but the publisher's staff changed everything in the printing office.
After all, in the seventies, the photographer had little power in editorial choices; on the contrary, they tried more and more to push them apart, to the point of ideological conflict.
Massimo Vergari is mentioned as a photographer along with you.
Yes, because the photos of Giorgio Almirante are his.
How much did the publisher influence the realization of the book?
I have to say that right from the start, Giulio Savelli, the publisher, left us free to plan this publication and initially we put the images side by side with the texts, then we paginated and created a working draft. The book was conceived with an extraordinary woman called Rosanna Fiocchetto, and as you will notice we chose an emotional thesis rather than an informative one, with texts and poems by Gramsci, Cooper, Brecht.
You had some experience with reporting.
A lot of my initial experience was due to my proximity to the big LIFE agency and the experience of seeing how they worked in dealing with the documentation of major world events.
I have always imposed basic rules of ethics in my work, which are similar to those of war reporters: always be recognizable and show that you are there to document and work, never hide because you could be mistaken for a sniper. For my part I have always expressed the thought that I would never have sold my images to scandalist or fascist newspapers and that I would not have photographed the protesters while they were committing crimes, this is because if I had been asked by the magistrate to hand over the film I would have had to deliver them, I chose this position while other colleagues photographed everything while being included in the demonstrations and some guys were arrested as a result of these images.
So why did you choose the path of the photographic book?
I have always been convinced that one of the functions of photography is to make books which is more important than wanting to make exhibitions. If we're talking about communication and spreading concepts through images, the book has enormous power, images are elitist. I am reminded of the fact that Piranesi's prints were very cheap so that even an outcast could afford them, and today in the digital age a paper support that narrates an event still has value.
Do you remember what the response was to the release of the book?
I must say that unfortunately there was a bit of approximation on the part of the publisher who reprinted the book in three editions without indicating it, so a certain number of copies of which no trace remains, a typical way of doing things in those years, perhaps also to avoid having to pay me royalties. Talking about the contents of the book, maybe for the students it represented an affirmation of existence, but for the people, who were still too conservative in the 1970s, it was the confirmation that whatever the claims of the young people, they were always subversive. No one had understood that a profound change was taking place in Italian society, in the universities there were three times as many students who lived and studied in impossible conditions, students who came from everywhere, mainly from rural and less wealthy Italy, and who were willing to do anything not to go back. These were the motivations behind the Valle Giulia riots in Rome.
The cover has some interesting features.
There is a relationship between right and left, if you look at the close-ups of the Time covers they never look to the left but always to the right, and this is the part where the Western eye stops, also due to the sense of our writing, and also in the cover of "The Way We Were" everyone is looking to the right.