Made in Italy-CGIL 100

Less than a generation after the death of Garibaldi, Italy’s largest trade union, the CGIL, was formed in 1906. The union’s birth epitomised what the fledgling nation’s culture and credos were to represent in the 20th century, encapsulating a traditional working class, the inevitable bourgeoisie, capitalists and, later, fervent communists.Now, almost 100 years later, Italy has changed fundamentally. The demographic differences so starkly apparent at the time of the CGIL’s formation have simply faded away, like a vibrant watercolour exposed to the sun. They have been replaced by a colourless homogeneity, a vagueness of purpose, even a decadence, in which chain stores are remarked upon for their garish use of colours.To mark the 100th anniversary of Italy’s greatest workers’ union, Made in Italy – CGIL 100 is an independent photographic survey of Italy today undertaken by four young prize-winning photographers. They have, so to speak, peered underneath the superficiality of contemporary Italy in attempt to understand the numbing, sclerotic changes in its society and its aims – if they are to be found.Italy is not the only European country to have been subject to the enervating syndromes of the shopping mall. But it has suffered more dramatically than any other simply because of its former passions, its cultural flamboyance and its intellectual rigour. Pier Paolo Pasolini recognized these changes, saying that Italian society was becoming the embourgeoisie, as if in some alarming way the entire nation had embraced the flatulent notions of a middle class without values, and without value.

Made in Italy – CGIL 100 tries to capture what is critically important to a society that appears to be imploding, a startling journey via images through to that part of Italy that today bears the heaviest burden of those changes. It asks the inevitable question: ‘How can this have happened? Is anybody paying attention?’

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