"Consider these facts. In Italy the right to worship, without discrimination, is enshrined within the constitution. There are 1.35 million Muslims in Italy and yet, officially, only five mosques in the whole country.One consequence is that the Muslim population have accumulated a huge number of makeshift and temporary places of worship. These are housed in a variety of buildings including lock ups, garages, shops, warehouses and old factories. This shortage of places to worship is particularly acute in north east Italy – where the photographer Nicoló DEGIORGIS lives – home to many anti-Islamic campaigns headed by the right wing party Lega Nord. The dull images of the many and diverse buildings that house the makeshift mosques are printed on folded pages. You open up the gatefold to reveal the scenes inside the mosques, shot in full colour. The size of the gatherings varies, from large crowds who sometimes pray outside to a small room full to bursting, or to intimate groups of two or three Muslims. Nicoló DEGIORGIS provides a fascinating glimpse of hidden world and leaves the conclusions about this project entirely in our own hands." (© Martin Parr, excerpt from the introduction)
The photo volume 'Hidden Islam' by Nicoló DEGIORGIS shows places of prayer used by Muslims in northern Italy. The special thing about it is how the South Tyrolean photographer and sociologist presents the topic. At first glance, it is a documentation of the external appearance of inconspicuous buildings, where there is little evidence of what function they have. Sober, in black and white and always in landscape format (7 x 11 cm.), The buildings are shown in a long shot or the entrance area in detail. This is reminiscent of the 'New Topographic' movement or monument lists. The original function of the buildings is made clear by the division in the table of contents: department stores - shops - supermarkets - apartments - stadiums - sports halls - garages or discos. At the same time, this division is intended to conceal the true content, which is only revealed when the fold-out pages are unfolded. Because these places were rented to enable people of the Muslim faith in Christian Italy to practice their religion. The folding pages can be opened to the right. Here the interiors are shown on a colored double page. Now the footband gets significantly more depth and the sense opens up. Even if these are not automatically the interiors of the buildings shown from the outside, the inside and outside are linked. On a further level, the viewer also feels how he reflects on what he has seen: the role of religion in general and perhaps the lack of understanding due to ignorance. Especially against the background of the '9/11' experience and its consequences for the Christian-Muslim relationship of trust.
About the photographer, Nicoló DEGIORGIS
Photo books by Nicoló DEGIORGIS
- 2nd print run, HC (poster as dust jacket), 16 x 24 x 2 cm., 90 pp. (45 gate folds), ltd. to 1,000 copies, text language: English