GABRIELLE SAVERI, SHORTLISTED 3RD BIENNIAL’S GRANT
I have been photographing the cowboys of Italy (I Butteri) since 2013. Each
summer, I have travelled to Maremma, the region spanning from the plains of
northern Lazio up through southern Tuscany, to photograph Italian horsemen
(and women) in an attempt to capture their rich cultural traditions and their deep
connection to their beloved cattle and land.
I have loved horses all of my life. Although I am no pro, I have ridden and spent
extensive time around horses since I was a child. During the 1990s, when I was
working as a reporter in Italy, I heard stories about the Italian cowboys but had
no idea know how to find them. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found my
way to Alberese, ground zero for the butteri, and had the opportunity to ride with
them. For me, it was a dream come true.
I am currently studying photography at Solano Community College, a local
community college in Northern California (I have also recently finished a
certification in professional photography at the school).
There are currently only a handful of authentic, working butteri in Italy who still
employ the ancient mestiere, or craft of the cowboy, raising distinctive
maremmano cattle and horses that are on the brink of extinction.
My photographic work consists of images of various groups butteri – the “real”
cowboys who continue to work full-time on farms, and the appassionati, young
and old men and women from all over Italy who have fallen in love with the
culture, donning traditional buttero clothing and embracing ancient traditions in
the hopes of keeping Italian cowboy culture alive.
My goal right now is to continue to seek out the horsemen and women of
Maremma, and to document their culture and how they have found profound
peace and deep meaning raising their horses and livestock, preserving ancient
farming traditions, and connecting to the natural world.
Receiving the Biennial Grant would allow me to finish a project I have been
working on for the past five years. I have shot hundreds of images of the butteri,
but I have realized there are still some shots I am missing that would make my
project complete. If I were to be granted the $3,000 from your organization, I
would use it to travel to Maremma one more time – specifically, to the town of
Alberese -- to Castelporziano, the Italian Presidential Summer Palace, and
possibly to the Agro Pontino region, south of Rome, to photograph different
groups of working cowboys, as well leading figures in the buttero community, that
I have not yet had the opportunity to photograph. I would also like to photograph
some of the local traditional events, such as the “merca” or traditional branding
ceremony, which I have not yet been able to capture in camera. The money
would be used as travel expenses (transportation and lodging) to help me get to
the different cowboys/places I would like to photograph. A major museum (the
Whitney Western Art Museum / Buffalo Bill Center of the West) in Cody,
Wyoming, has expressed interest in possibly showing my photos at their
museum, so receiving a grant would allow me to finish my project and to fulfill a
dream of creating a beautiful and historically significant work about the Italian
cowboys of Maremma.