Born in Bergamo, Northern Italy, in 1926 (Diane Arbus was born in ’23), Carla Cerati has been a photographer and a writer and was such an important figure for the cultural and political life of our country. She died 2016 in Milan.
She bought her first camera – a Rollei – in instalments from her father at the end of the ‘50s and became a professional photographer who documented the political and social events in Milan through the ‘60s and ’70’s, from cocktail parties to political demonstrations, funerals, clashes, court trials (for instance, the Calabresi-Lotta Continua trial). Remember that Milan was in the so-called Years od Lead.
And then, together with Gianni Berengo Gardin, Carla Cerati collaborated with Franco Basaglia to document the conditions of patients in mental hospitals (the book is: Morire di Classe, Einaudi, 1968).
The Basaglia Law or Law 180 is the Italian Mental Health Act of 1978 which signified a large reform of the psychiatric system in Italy.
You see, she was at the centre of things and took a clear stand.
This book is a gem. It was printed and published by Amilcare Pizzi in Milan in 1974. (a curious fact: Amilcare Pizzi was a football player of AC Milan and founded the imprint with the money he made as a football player – in 1914).
Carla Cerati herself writes about this work:
“They say: To be objective. But I don’t believe in the objectivity of the lens. A photographer can, if he or she wants, deform reality; and this is exactly where the fun is: creating a fictitious reality by filtering objective reality through the idea that we have of it”