Lisetta Carmi (1924-2022)

Lisetta Carmi, one of the most important Italian photographers, passed away last week at 98. She approached photography thanks to Leo Levi, the renowned musicologist, who was traveling in Puglia, in Southern Italy, to record melodies and songs of the Jewish tradition. On that occasion, Carmi bought her first camera and fell in love twice: with the device and its infinite potential and Puglia, where she had lived for many years.
Carmi was born in Genoa and due to the racist laws of ’38 was expelled from public school and had to seek refuge in Switzerland. At the end of the war, she graduated from the Milan Conservatory as a pianist and successfully held a series of concerts in Italy and abroad.
Her career as a photographer, which began in her Genoa, would lead her to remarkable experiences. Among them, two trips to document the reality of Israel in the Sixties, which were recently retraced in a suggestive exhibition, curated by Daria Carmi and Giovanni Battista Martini, realized in the premises of the Jewish Community of Casale Monferrato for the MonFest 2022 Photography Festival.
Among the protagonists of the exhibition, there are “Yemeni card players who could have come out of a neorealist film, the confident gaze of an immigrant from San Nicandro, Bedouin camps, a very young and very thin military man: gun, payos, and a uniform that seems to be two sizes more…”. And there are children, so many children. That by Carmi is the portrait of a young country, growing up and looking towards the future.
The exhibition, as Daria Carmi remarked at the opening, was both a tribute and an act of recognition “of her research and photographic production carried out in many years of activity, in which aesthetic and documentary values add up creating a precious and meaningful work”.
May her memory be of a blessing.