With an impending trip to Sicily in sight, a friend lent me this staggering portfolio of Battaglia's images from the streets of her home, Palermo. She cites Joseph Koudelka (the foremost photographer of Gypsies, as far as I'm concerned), and Dianne Arbus, as inspirations for her work. If she hadn't mentioned them herself, I think they would be the names her work brings to mind; the immedicay and warmth of the former, the shock of the American. This is a brilliant selection of photos. I don't think even Sebastian Salgado(the other familiar photographic name she cites)has ventured his camera into territory which incites such awe. Hers is an impossible act to imitate or follow, a consummate emotional achievement with great political clout. Together with a re-read of Peter Robb's, 'Midnight in Sicily', and,'The Leopard', I'm at least intellectually better prepared for the trip than with a tattered copy of my Lonely Planet Guide to the locale. Robb meets Battaglia on p239 of his rigorous exegis and speaks of 'each photo(being) a shock, the accumulative effect devastating. Not taken with art, though with the strengths that art might have envied'. Absolutely!