Brutto Male

Nadia Shira Cohen

2009 - 2014

I was led to Campania by a silent massacre which began 20 years ago of who’s consequences are now being waged against it’s people, with the number of deaths increasing by the day. A combination of local studies have found Elevated cancer rates in the region. Beginning in the late 1980’s the Camorra mafia has systematically carried out illegal toxic waste dumping of various types including chemicals, heavy metals, petroleum, etc. are continually and illegal buried under ground, burned in large quantities, hidden in conventional house-hold trash dumps and in some cases even thought to be buried in the foundation of building structures. The Camorra which filled a void in waste management did so with the complicity of politicians, intoxicating the entire region of Northern Naples and Southern Caserta to no return. The region, known as the "Triangle of Death," or "The Land of Fires," has elevated levels of cancer and congenital malformations. Although scientific studies by the Italian National Research Council, as well as the American Military and the World Health Organization, the Italian Government remains indifferent on the situation.

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  • Pavia, Italy-August, 2009: I watched Armando in his last days leading up to the bone marrow transplant. He was dancing to the wedding video of some family friends while playing the xylophone all at the same time. He reminded me of myself when I had cancer, of the strength and resilience one finds to combat something so dark and so frightening. Despite his young three years, Armando understands this, that he must be strong, he must rise to the occasion.

  • Marigliano, Naples, Italy-January 15, 2014: Maria Formisano, 69 clutches her breast where she recently underwent a lumpectomy for stage 4 breast cancer that spread to her brain. Although originally given only 15 days to live she underwent radiation and chemotherapy for 8 months and is now awaiting a scan in less than a months time that will show whether or not she is cancer free. Maria and her husband, originally from Napoli moved to Marigliano in Naples Province for what they thought would be a better life for them and their children. They never imagined that the tap water they drank and the produce they ate for years would turn out to be filled with toxins.

  • Marigliano, Naples, Italy-January 9, 2014: An abandoned sofa lies amidst farmland along the Regi Lagni Canals of Marigliano in the province of Naples. The canals, which lead from inland into the ocean and weave through Naples province have been subject to years of toxic waste dumping.

  • Marigliano, Naples, Italy-August, 2009: I’ve been told the reason they burn toxic trash during the day along the canal is that the sun combusts the chemicals and the trash burns faster and more completely. Here the trash burns day and night, non-organic smells permeate the air. Firemen come and go, never really knowing what they are snuffing out.

  • Terzigno, Naples, Italy-October 26, 2010: A horse carriage passes by the remnants of burned out garbage trucks, set alight by protestors in the main square in Terzigno. In Terzigno, a small town on the outskirts of Naples which lies just beneath Mount Vesuvius there is a trash emergency which began when a new landfill was opened in the town. The local population, having arrived at their limits after years of abusive waste disposal and inhumane living conditions revolted in both violent and peaceful manner, burning garbage trucks which arrived from Naples city to unload tons of trash in the new dump. There are provisions for the opening of other landfills in the area and a risk of further unrest.

  • Marigliano,Naples, Italy-July, 2009: Gennaro was preparing Antonella’s dinner. I watched with which care he stirred the mixture of meat and vegetables, cooling it with occasional blows and tasting it to make sure it was balanced. Ever since her tongue was removed Antonella eats through a tube in her stomach, pefering not to eat chicken, even though she can no longer taste, its' something she never liked.

  • Qualiano, Naples, Italy-January 2014: A statue of the Virgin Mary prays along the road in Quagliano, a known toxic waste dumping area.

  • Marigliano, Naples, Italy-July, 2009: The funeral all happened so fast. Before I knew it Lina and Andrea’s Aunt were fainting and people were lunging at that coffin. I was stunned and deeply saddened, I couldn’t photograph. Then when everyone had dispersed along came Amodio, Andrea’s best friend, to share in a last smoke together.

  • Marigliano, Naples, Italy-January 15, 2014: Vasca San Sossio, a known waste dumping site in Marigliano, considered one of the points in the "Triangle of Death."

  • Casal di Principe, Caserta, Italy-January 13, 2014: Carabinieri, the National Military Police of Italy stand guard at a digging site in Casal di Principe, during an operation intended to dig out known toxic waste in a farm nearby the cemetery, allegedly dumped by two local Camorra mafia bosses, Roberto Vargas e Francesco della Corte. The bosses told authorities where to dig which they did so with a crane, unearthing construction materials, asbestos, and toxic waste barrels.

  • Marigliano, Naples, Italy-July, 2009: I was thinking what an odd paradox it was that by some weird twist of fait some toxic chemicals made it all the way on a boat in blue barrels from Africa to Italy, into ancient Roman soil, only to be transported on the sneaker of an American Photographer to her neighborhood park in Rome.

  • Marigliano, Naples, Italy-July, 2009: Today Lina can’t believe her own reality, it’s too much to bare, almost surreal, like she is out of her own body looking down upon herself. She is tired, tired of seeing Andrea’s face without life, afraid to smile, afraid to breath.

  • Marigliano, Naples, Italy-July, 2009: There were plenty of fireworks although I don’t see what there is to celebrate. Almost every family I meet has someone who is sick in their home. Here there is no dolce vita, here it’s depressed…you can feel it in the air, it’s suffocating, a sentiment of which you want to escape. I want to escape, run back to Rome as fast as I can, go back home, forget all about what I’ve seen, this is not my problem, or is it? I live in this country, I came here for the quality of life that I always dreamed to have. Here in Marigliano there is no quality of life, there is just survival. And so I am compelled to stay.

  • Marigliano, Naples, Italy-July, 2009: The bird was lying dead on the ground when I arrived to Antonella's house, not squished but shot, by a gun, a pistol. The deep red blood stain stood out in the midday light. I wondered if it was a young camorra drug dealer or just a frustrated it's always hard to tell the reality, guns come easy and life looses it's value. I took it as an omen for what was to come...a death.

  • Marigliano, Naples, Italy-January 15, 2014: A farmer burns a fire in his broccoli field in a farm near a known toxic waste dump site known as "Masseria Verduzio," in Marigliano considered one of the points in the "Triangle of Death."