Dazed Digital

Rome / Italiano

Edoardo Cicconi: Archivio Fotografico Cicconi

October 12, 2011

An amazing online photo archive offering rare images and unprecedented perspectives on the Italian 20th Century

  • Text by Tommaso Fagioli

If there is one thing that distinguishes Italians it is their love for the past, to which they’ve always paid great attention, even in the privacy of their own family traditions. The Archivio Fotografico Cicconi was launched this year and is the most striking case of this documental new wave: seven million original images narrate the history of Italy from 1890 to the present, offering unprecedented perspectives on politics, culture, costume and society, as well as moments of high privacy of well-known public figures. Among the various sections (Fashion, Entertainment, Sports, Fascism, Vatican) there is a unique one entirely dedicated to La Dolce Vita. Satellite Voices spoke with Edoardo Cicconi the young manager of the archive.

Satellite Voices: How was it possible to gather certain sections of the archive?
Edoardo Cicconi:
Thanks to the foresight of my father, Umberto Cicconi. In the 80s an affirmed photographer had created his own photo-journalism agency in Rome and also followed (the politician) Bettino Craxi around the world as his personal photographer. In this context my father e emerged as the best one and the “old paparazzis”, including the great Tazio Secchiaroli, began to offer him their old job and archives. He thus acquired the first four funds, which covers a period from the late 19th century to the 1970s, to which he added his own work to close the century.

SV: What do you think is the value underlying the preservation of historical memory?
Edoardo Cicconi:
History eats world and men. It can also be used to not allow men to eat each other. For the savvy ones, it is a chance to learn from past blunders. The preservation of historical memory is crucial, without it we would be just animals governed by instincts. Today we live in a sort of reset of global culture, I consider myself lucky because I grew up with glass plates and stories, not only with video games, soccer matches and mobile phones. History and culture also need spectators or die. And eat the world and men.

SV: Which pictures of the archive particularly impressed or amused you?
Edardo Cicconi:
I feel the whole thing, for the variety of images. Perhaps the series taken on the night of Aiché Nanà’s stripping at the famous Rugantino restaurant (image mid/right) in late November 1958. It is the symbol of the beginning of the Roman Dolce Vita and of a great costume change in our country.

SV: What is the “mission” of the Archive?
Edoardo Cicconi:
We consider ourselves a niche in the market, we what to be is what we have: a unique quantity and variety covering the entire Italian 20th century. Our mission is to open ourselves to the world. The iconographic supply for publishing is only the starting point. Some projects are already underway, a historical series on DVD, an application for the iPhone, several synergies with international structures that operate in the culture and collaboration worldwide universities. At the moment, my dearest initiative is to begin to produce single “pieces” for the art market - authentic and valuable objects with a limited number.

SV: What is your relationship with Rome?
Edoardo Cicconi:
I was born in Rome by both Roman parents, and so were my grandparents. To say that I love my city is an understatement, my relation to it is almost morbid. I just need to look at the antique marbles or some fresco, corners, attics, basements or sheds. In the centre or outside the walls, it doesn’t really matter, in every corner I perceive the power of Mamma Roma who’s been the same old town for two thousand years, never really a metropolis.

Photo of Edoardo (up/left) by Paula Lingyi Sun

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