Prize pair: Ferrario's diptych Untitled; excerpt from Cappello's "Red Cycle." Used with permission. © Paola Ferrario
Photographs and writing from ten past prize-winning projects are featured in "Hand & Eye: Fifteen Years of the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize," an exhibit at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke that runs through January 8. The exhibit comprises a broad range of documentary work from the U.S. and around the world, including Salvadoran street gangs, Italy's new immigrants, America's toughest boxing gyms, highway construction in remote Appalachia, mountain Jews in Azerbaijan, and post-Soviet transition in Cuba.
First awarded in 1991, the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize was created by the CDS to encourage collaboration between documentary writers and photographers in the tradition of the acclaimed photographer Dorothea Lange and writer and social scientist Paul Taylor. In 1941, Lange and Taylor published An American Exodus, a book that renders human experiences in text and images. It remains a seminal work in documentary studies.
While legal immigrants make up less than 5 percent of Italy's population, a large number of undocumented people have come to Italy with hopes of a better quality of life for themselves and their families. Photographer Paola Ferrario, an Italian immigrant to the U.S., and writer Mary Cappello, the granddaughter of Italian immigrants to the U.S., bring their personal ties to the immigrant experience in "Pane Amaro / Bitter Bread: Italy's New Immigrants," which won the Lange/Taylor prize in 2001.
"Let me tell you what it's like to wake up in your own bed, in your own house, in your own country. It's the feeling of being egg-shaped and smooth. Of course it's an illusion, but it holds your rib cage like a tight-fitting silk corset.
Your body is solid. None of this feeling like one wrong move and you might step off the edge of the Earth, or that the corners of the room are conspiring to crowd you, or the springs in the couch are so demolished that you might not be able to get up, and you need to. You need to stand in line for hours, weeks, months in pursuit of an identity card."