Home Art The Preserved Fantastic thing about Italian Island Traditions

The Preserved Fantastic thing about Italian Island Traditions


Sos Merdules, Ottana, Sardinia (all photographs © Alys Tomlinson, courtesy GOST Books)

The primary two figures in Alys Tomlinson’s picture e book Gli Isolani (The Islanders) (GOST Books, 2023) provide us one thing between a greeting and a warning. Lined in shaggy animal skins and carrying enigmatic wood masks, the figures appear historic and insular. Their confrontational stances and curved staffs recommend that the rocky panorama round them is the positioning of some sort of secret ceremony. Who’re these figures, and why are they dressed this manner?

Over the course of two years, Tomlinson traveled between Sardinia, Sicily, and the islands of the Venetian lagoon to {photograph} individuals who put on conventional clothes and masks in group festivals. Her portraits function figures wearing animal horns and furs — like these Merdules from carnival celebrations in Ottana, Sardinia — in addition to girls shrouded in black veils and posed in intricate robes. The costumes are menacing, mysterious, and engaging at turns, and every portrait suggests a particular cultural which means or position that these figures should characterize.

Tomlinson’s rigorously crafted, massive format black-and-white pictures of the islands’ women and men in costume carry a reverent sense of stillness. Regardless of being made by an outsider, her photos comprise not one of the distance or voyeurism that one would possibly count on from makes an attempt to seize such a novel and intently held heritage. On the identical time, her topics’ big selection of gown provide the viewer an enchanting combine of non secular, folkloric, and pure components that spark curiosity about how native histories pour into current day life; annually, Tomlinson’s younger topics determine to don masks and clothes which were handed down from era to era.

This newest physique of labor shares the sincerity and thoughtfulness of Tomlinson’s earlier initiatives, which depicted highschool graduates through the pandemic and adopted the devotions of latest non secular pilgrims. With Gli Isolani, the British photographer provides us an intriguing and hopeful have a look at how these island dwellers select to hold on and really embody lengthy standing native customs.

Maschere a Gattu, Sarule, Sardinia
Piana degli Albanesi, Sicily
Il Diavolo, Prizzi, Sicily
Sos Corriolos, Neoneli, Sardinia
La Donna ‘Faldetta Cupaltata’, Tempio Pausania, Sardinia
I Giudei, San Fratello, Sicily
Issohadore, Mamoiada, Sardinia
Is Sonaggiaos, Ortueri, Sardinia


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