1 / 5       From the series Pipeline. © Elena Perlino.
2 / 5       From the series Pipeline. © Elena Perlino.
3 / 5       During the visit to the exhibition Pipeline by Elena Perlino. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.
4 / 5       During the visit to the exhibition Pipeline by Elena Perlino. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.
5 / 5       During the visit to the exhibition Pipeline by Elena Perlino. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.

Pipeline

Enter the room and to welcome you is the image of a woman’s cleavage. A thin necklace with a pendant frames the dark complexion, and a black and white patterned jersey, that, dishevelled, falls from a shoulder. Probably pulled down on purpose. From the naked skin in fact emerges a long scar, thick, which from below the clavicle goes along the side of her breast to almost halfway down, an eloquent detail. And the outlines of what you're going to see become immediately clear.
Elena Perlino's work exhibited in the Old Hospital speaks of violence, abuse and harassment. Lives scarred by debt, difficult to repay, and marked forever by a daily meanness, set at multiple levels, from which it is very difficult to liberate yourself.
The protagonists of the story are in fact African women, from Benin City, arriving in Turin, Genoa, Rome, Naples and Palermo for prostitution. From this city come 80% of the Nigerian women victims of trafficking, forced to sell their bodies on Italian streets. From there, from this city of Edo State, enclave in the south of Nigeria is where for many begins the migratory path, towards exploitation, which the Italian photographer has followed for almost seven years (2006-2013).
A tragic reality, of which Elena Perlino shows us different aspects and facets, outlining the contours of a situation that appears immediately clear, to be more intricate and complex than the images are able to tell. Complicit in the introductory text and captions – from the book Le ragazze di Bebin City by Laura Maragnani and Isoke Aikpitanyi (Melampo Editore, Milano, 2012) – but now the story becomes immediately intense, to make up for the silences and visual omissions and giving back to a project communicative power that, perhaps, with a different captioning, and more journalistic form, would not have had.
However overall the message arrives. The journey, the street life, the sufferance, private moments, those behind the scenes, and temporary detention centres are in fact taken by Perlino to compose the background onto which is often inserted the troubled path of liberation that these women, abducted or sold, face to break free from the sexual exploitation. And as the narrative proceeds insistently in captions, all of a sudden the street units appear, the reception centres and customers themselves, who play a double role. On the one hand they are a resource for the Nigerians who decide to embark on the difficult path of redemption, on the other they remain the first perpetrators, guilty with their request to fuel the considerable migratory flow. A continuous flow, channelling with violence women young and old on course to Italy relying on family, illusions, hopes, economic needs and lack of alternatives. Almost an oil pipeline, a profitable open pipe between Africa and Italy... Pipeline, precisely. [ S. B. ]

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PIPELINE
by Elena Perlino
Vecchio Ospedale | until September 27th, 2015
admission fee: 6,00 €

published on 2015-07-28 in NEWS / EXHIBITIONS

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