Ferdinando Scianna


The photograph Christian Militiaman, taken by Ferdinando Scianna in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1976, is both a powerful and moving work. The photograph documents a moment of tension and conflict in the city, during one of the crises that bloodied it. Scianna adopts a strongly close-up shot; he places the subject between architectural elements that contextualize the action and create oblique lines that converge the gaze on the subject and the butt of the weapon he is holding. The whole image conveys the strength and determination of the Christian militiaman. His expression is intense and decisive as he aims his rifle, on the handle of which the Madonna is portrayed, as if he were facing a difficult but necessary challenge. The oxymoron between the violence and the religious message is chilling and yet profound, and shows the Sicilian photographer’s ability to capture the essence of reality in a raw and detailed way. Scianna’s testimony thus forces us to reflect on issues that are both particular and universal.

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