Italian elections

These Creepy Portraits Show the Ridiculousness of Italian Politics

Two photographers created the fanzine 'Boys Boys Boys' to demonstrate just how weird Italy's recent election campaign has been.

by Elena Viale; photos by Luca Santese, and Marco P. Valli
09 March 2018, 1:39am

All photos courtesy of Luca Santese and Marco P. Valli

This article originally appeared on VICE Italy

Four days after the fact, it's still unclear what Italy's general election results will mean for the country. While the left-wing parties definitely lost, the centre-right coalition of Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the anti-immigrant populists of Lega Nord achieved a combined 36 percent of the vote. But despite their recent corruption scandals, the party with the single highest percentage of votes (32 percent) was the Five Star Movement (M5S), which campaigned on offering an alternative to the traditional political class.

Still, no party managed to reach the 40 percent threshold needed to form a government, and now long, complex negotiations have started to see whether some sort of coalition can be formed. The next Prime Minister could be Lega's leader Matteo Salvini, with his message of "Italian First", or Italy could end up with 31-year-old Luigi Di Maio of M5S.

Both former Prime Ministers, Berlusconi and Matteo Renzi, are out of the running. Renzi, once seen as Italy's Justin Trudeau, led his party – the Democrats (PD) – to a historically low showing. Berlusconi's legal problems, coupled with the fact his party won fewer seats than its coalition partners, means he can't be Prime Minister, either.

Matteo Renzi, former Prime Minister and leader of the PD

One thing that's for sure is that this election campaign – a barrage of cheap political ads and bizarre anti-gay propaganda – was one of the worst and weirdest in Italy's recent history. That aspect is exactly what Italian photographers Luca Santese and Marco P Valli decided to focus on for their latest project.

After spending weeks documenting Forza Italia and Lega Nord rallies in Northern Italy, Santese and Valli decided to treat politicians like they treat voters – place them in the middle of a circus that's more about entertainment than politics. That plan resulted in the Boys Boys Boys fanzine, which was released on Sunday the 4th of March, election day.

Luigi Di Maio, leader of M5S (left) and Matteo Salvini, leader of Lega Nord

"At the beginning of the election campaign we attended rallies with the intention of selling our pictures to newspapers," Santese and Valli explained via email. "But as time went on, we just got so sick of what we were seeing, and it became harder to watch."

Santese and Valli looked on as the campaigns dumbed down further, and decided to make a collection of uncompromising portraits of the party leaders. "By isolating their faces, we wanted to strip these politicians from all the things around them that legitimised them," they explained. "That way, we highlighted certain facial features and expressions, essentially making them look like caricatures."

They put the pictures together as mock election posters, while the name of the fanzine represents just how ridiculous and immature the campaign became. "While working on the edit, we started to dub each politician as a different variety of 'boy'," Santese and Valli said. "The bad boy, the good boy and, of course, the golden boy."

Scroll down to see more photos from Boys Boys Boys

Matteo Salvini
Giorgia Meloni, leader of Fratelli d'Italia (left) and Ignazio La Russa, co-founder Fratelli d'Italia
Silvio Berlusconi, former Prime Minister, Forza Italia
Daniela Santanché, Fratelli d'Italia (left) and Giorgia Meloni (right)
Silvio Berlusconi

This article originally appeared on VICE IT.