In the summer of 1992, there was carnage in and around Palermo. First, a slaughter at Capaci, in which a judge, his wife and three police officers were slaughtered. Then, a blast in Via D'Amelio, which killed another judge as well as his five bodyguards. It was at this point that a group of women in Palermo felt the need to do something, to react in some way.

This book acknowledges and celebrates the many courageous women from Sicily who staged a public protest and hunger strike against the Mafia in 1992. Their actions were unprecedented, and their bravery initiated waves of publicity as well as public and private debate about a topic many feared.

22 years later, photographer Francesco Francaviglia sought out these heroic women to hear the stories about their actions in 1992 and to learn what has happened in the intervening decades. He made portraits, recorded interviews, collected archival documents and newspaper clippings, and gathered statements from other people who were affected by their actions. Together, this material has become a fascinating testimony filled with insight about the ways of the Mafia, and more importantly, how the rebellion of these women has affected the course of their lives. Many have continued to stay active in politics, law, advocacy and journalism.

This documentary project  was greeted with such enthusiasm, that for the first time in its history, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence displayed photography — these very portraits.

The Uffizi Gallery Director Antonio Natali introduced the exhibition with this statement:

"The faces portrayed by Francesco Francaviglia are those of courageous women who openly took sides twenty years ago, heedless of evil (including of the harm that might befall them in retaliation), against the merciless and brutal crime that bloodied that summer (and that continues to bloody and to corrupt our world even today). The passage of time may have lined those faces but, to quote Shakespeare, it has had no power on their beauty, the beauty of an age-old pride. These women's faces have inevitably changed, but for that very reason they still bear witness to their undaunted courage, to their untamed spirit of rebellion and to their inflexible determination to resist."

The book's excellent texts are in both Italian and English, while the portraits are universal. Highly recommended.

— Jim Casper

The Fasting Women
Francesco Francaviglia
edited by Marco Delogu
112 pages, 31 portraits plus archival materials
Publisher: POSTCART, 2014