Animated and vibrant personalities in politics are among the most photographed subjects in the world, but it’s never the composed, propagandistic images of these people that we find most interesting. It’s the images where we see politicians caught slightly off guard, closing their eyes to gather themselves before making a profound statement, or gesturing wildly when this patience is abruptly lost. These are the very moments that Italian photographer Gianni Cipriano pinpoints and captures in his series Politico, a revelatory project that demonstrates how the world of politics is more akin to a theatrical performance than a noble profession for the wise.

In stark black and white, Cipriano hones in on the gestures and theatricality of his country’s political figures, creating a conversation between his images that ebbs and flows between heightened drama and unsettling silence. While people are caught in the act of dictation and conversation, hands emotively askew, Cipriano also incorporates images of empty rooms – a calm before the storm of empty stages awaiting their performing thespians.

Influenced by the perfectly candid style of seminal photographers like Weegee, Cipriano collects his subjects together into a context where they are equal in their sensibility, from smaller local politicians in Palermo to international figureheads in Rome. “Ruthlessness, ambition, fantasy and failure. Welcome to the arena of Italian democracy,” says the photographer. In his series, all politicians are equal. The images are taken from a range of perspectives, zoomed in on hand gestures or zoomed out on an entire parliamentary crowd. The harsh black and white makes their time period ambiguous, contextualizing them as universally readable and relevant. “There is no political correctness in politics,” Cipriano explains. And these milliseconds in between conscious moments successfully reveal the expression of that disillusionment.