The following Photo Story was generated as part of the final assignment for the Advanced Photojournalism module I took at Dublin City University.
The Photo Story was subsequently picked up by More News Soc. Coop. (Italy) and was published on ItalyRivierAlps.com. It is available at this address.
In April 2015, a selection of pictures from the same Photo Story won the DCU Hybrid Student Media Awards in the “Photographer of the Year” category, which was judged by Kieran Frost, photographer for Getty Images and freelance photographer with The Irish Times.
Links to entries:
[INTRO – description photo 1]
Over 5,000 people visited the Living Crib event held in Prea (Italy) on the 24th, 25th of December and 5th of January.
The number refers to the tickets sold on the three nights, and does not take into account the hundreds of children who were granted free entrance.
“Considering the amount of families at the event, I am pretty sure that this year we reached at least 6,000 visitors,” said Luca Basso, one of the organisers of the Presepe Vivente (Living Crib).
The Presepe Vivente, allegedly invented by Italy’s patron saint Francis of Assisi, is a very important tradition in Italy, probably unique in the world in terms of Christmas celebrations.
In Prea, more than 200 performers acted out the crib scene, representing 50 arts, crafts and trades from the 17th century, and wearing faithful costumes from the same age.
The anachronism is evident when placed side by side with the manger, but the aim is to show the simplicity of a life that was “really able to appreciate the true value of things,” Mr Basso tells us ,“as it used to be in Prea back then.”
Prea, an ancient Occitan village close to the Western Alps, is a very suggestive location for this type of representation, which is at the same time religious and historical.
The Holy Family is always played by a local family: this year it was impersonated by Massimo Maule (Saint Joseph), Manuela Marenchino (Virgin Mary) and the little Greta Maule (Baby Jesus).
The manger is traditionally located in a hut opposite to the main entrance to the Parochial Church.
(continued) …The Holy Family is always played by a local family: this year it was impersonated by Massimo Maule (Saint Joseph), Manuela Marenchino (Virgin Mary) and the little Greta Maule (Baby Jesus). The manger is traditionally located in a hut opposite to the main entrance to the Parochial Church. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
COSTRUTTORE DI CESTE/BASKET MAKER: Dario Amaranto re-enacts the ancient craft of basket maker, in Italian “cestaio” and in Kye dialect “cavanhè”. Kye is an Occitan dialect still spoken by the people living in Prea, and an element that makes the visit to the Living Crib even more interesting, especially when performers can be heard communicating with each other in such language. In one of the baskets (bottom right) the presence of some grissini (a type of breadsticks very typical of the region) can be noticed. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
CONCIATORI DI PELLI/TANNERS: (From the left) Marco Rosso, Cristian Rosso, Matteo Rosso and Andrea Dho play the “conciatori di pelli”, the tanners. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
STAGNINI/ TINSMITHS: Giovanni Luciano, Daniele Magnino, Emanuele, Magnino and Giovanni Bertolino perform the “tore”, Kye work for “tinsmiths”, workers who made or repaired things of tin of tinplate. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
SARTA/ SEAMSTRESS: Maria Ferrero was one of the six women playing the “filatrici e sarte”, Italian for the ancient craft of spinners and seamstresses. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
GIOCATTOLAIO/TOYMAKER: Mauro di Murro shows one of his toys from a different age, when acting as a toymaker. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
FALEGNAME/CARPENTER: One of the organisers of the event, Luca Basso impersonates a carpenter. In this picture, he carves a log. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
LAVANDAIA/WASHERWOMAN: Teresina Basso plays a washerwoman. In this picture, she is preparing a mix of water and ashes (in Kye “alshia indinz a la sia”), which in the past were used as a detergent, particularly with white clothes. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
FORNAIO/BAKER: Laura Botto helps Alberto Bruno, the “fornaio”, to make the bread. Once ready, small slices of bread were offered to visitors. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
SCUOLA/SCHOOL: Local kids act as pupils in a very small “shcořa”, Kye for school, in which an old abacus and planisphere can be observed. (Performers: Maria Capra, Sofia Maule, Francesca Luciano, Beatrice Luciano, Gloria Anfossi, Lorenzo Sevega) (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
MATERASSAIE/MATTRESS MAKERS: Maria Piera Gay and Margherita Unia work with wool to make mattresses. At the time, producing a mattress would take at least a week. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
MANISCALCHI/FARRIERS: Stefano Basso, Domenico Bongiovanni and Giovanni Pastorelli act as farriers, making horseshoes for horses and fitting them on their hooves. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
TAGLIALEGNA/WOODCUTTERS-LUMBERJACKS: Daniele Somà, Emanuele Basso and Gabriele Dho play the woodcutters-luberjacks. Behind them, more logs sent by woodcutters working on the hill above come down through a wire fixed to a big wooden stake. Woodcutters above can be heard shouting from time to time “Alla vita!” (Be careful!), to which workers at the foot of the hill respond “Campa!” (Throw it down!), communicating that there is no danger and that everybody will keep safe and away from the descending logs. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
CALZOLAI/SHOEMAKERS: Elio Bono, Paolo Rosati, and Michele Vivalda make shoes in their wooden hut on a small road just outside Prea, towards the end of the guided path of the Living Crib. In front of the hut there is one of the several gas streetlamps used during the event. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)
LANTERNIERE/LAMPLIGHTER: Lamplighter Ezio Dho extinguishes a gas streetlamp in Prea at the end of the event. He is in charge of both the lighting and extinguishing of all the streetlamps in the village. To recreate the atmosphere of the 17th century, the organisers prohibited the use of electricity for the entire duration of the Living Crib. In the background, behind Mr Dho, the façade of the Parochial Church can be seen. (Gianluca Avagnina Photography)