detail from 'Sun Bather & Giglio' ©Larry Racioppo                   

     A central event for the Italian-American religious community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn is the annual carrying (or ‘dancing’) of the ‘Giglio’. On the shoulders of 150 to 200 strong men, a 4 ton, 85 foot tall, aluminum and papier-mâché tower, along with a 12 piece brass band, is lifted, turned, bounced and ‘danced’ along the streets. Dating back to the late 19th century in Williamsburg, the dancing and pageantry provide a link with traditions from the small towns around Naples, Italy that goes back many centuries. From June 20th to July 26th, 2003, Safe-T-Gallery is pleased to present the first exhibition of ‘Giglio’ photographs by Larry Racioppo -- photographs that examine the festival both as a religious and a neighborhood event; a group performance and a private experience.
     Mr. Racioppo first began photographing the annual feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Paulinus in 1998 with a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council, and has been returning every year since. “I keep returning because I am amazed by the size and powerful beauty of the Giglio itself and my feeling of connection to Williamsburg’s Italian-American community”, Racioppo explains. Photographing the festival and the preparations, as well as the surrounding activities, he brings a concerned, but wry, eye to both the spiritual and the profane aspects of this modern day religious rite.

"Children's Giglio" © Larry Racioppo
     Larry Racioppo’s photographs have been widely exhibited and collected. He is in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Museum of the City of New York, The New York Historical Society and the New York Public Library. This project was funded in part by grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Brooklyn Arts Council.