Barbers of Sicily

The barber shop in Sicily: a sacred institution, subtle in appearance but more formidable than the consecrated church that dominates the main square. In the spring of 1991 I returned to Sicily after years, just as the marks left by the searing modernity on provincial life were beginning to be visible: cars, concrete, American-style bars, and, as soon as I set foot in a barber’s shop in Corleone, I realised that I was before the most authentic place of Sicilian sociality, where the smallest jolt of town life was combed through, with artful nonchalance, observed unobserved, spoken unspoken. It became evident to me that the old barbershops were the most urgent and meaningful “subject” I could pick for myself, to immortalise with my camera that cultural imprint, that distillation of “Sicilianity”, before it got too late.