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The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of the most objectionable vices that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen humanity's tendency to sin.

The final version of the list consists of

I.   Luxuria (lust)

II.   GULA (gluttony)

III.   Avaritia (Greed)

IV.   Acedia (sloth)

V.   Ira (wrath)

VI.   Invidia (envy)

VII.   Superbia (Vainglory)

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Deadly Sins. A Recurring Iconography

words by Iggy Passenger


Although paired to theology, the Deadly Sins are somehow a catalogue of the human weaknesses.

We define “sins” as exaggerated behaviours upon an established morale, whose seriousness is related to how much damage they cause both to the individual and to the community.

Without any doubt, immediate referral is to that sort of initiation named ‘Divine Comedy’ by Dante Alighieri in the XIV century. To visually describe the distance between Inferno - Hell - and Eden, Dante used a series of juxtaposed rings, with each ring expressing one of the seven types of sin. The more serious the sin, the further away from Paradise.

However,  before and after Dante, every age produced its own vision of the Deadly Sins. No less notorious is Hieronymus Bosch’s representation, who uses grotesque trickery to raise a sort of transference between sin and sinner by the viewer; the theological abstraction - still prevailing in the Divine Comedy -  gives way to a physiognomic of the sin destined to mark all Western imaginary. Bosch’s figurative vision is a successful saga using a new language to reveal the human condition under the vigilant eye of high morality.

During the Enlightenment age, the difference between sins and virtues started to lose importance as the virtues and the sins contribute to society’s material development in industrial, commercial, and economic areas. However, after this period, the sins are still traceable in some works of Immanuel Kant, who interprets them as expression of human typology and an integral part of one’s behaviour. Later, in the 1800’s there came about a great many essays on the Deadly Sins with them becoming a vastly interesting topic across moral philosophy, human psychology and theology circles.

An updated version - even darker than Bosch’s - comes by Otto Dix. It is an allegorical painting symbolising the political status in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. Here the artist construes the events through the same artifice as the Flemish masters:  Envy, who is riding on Greed’s shoulders, is wearing a mask with Adolf Hitler’s resemblance. The image depicts a new born society, barbarian and savage in its misery; a nightmare that will be hard to wake up from.

Why a photographic project about the Deadly Sins?

Photography has been formerly used to declare “true and real” some historic events through visual means. In time, it matured into the ability to show everyday life in a more personal way. Eventually photography came to reveal the true soul of reality that is intrinsic to every human statement: the interpretation.

It seems that the Seven Deadly Sins became more and more a sort of lens used to show - or interpret - the human condition of the times. A guiding tool that, washed out from any religious implication, it works as archetypal landmark of the loss of meanings in contemporary society.

To discuss sin - what it means in our age - presumes the immanence of the sin itself, which, although secularised, seems to be unavoidable even in the most tolerant of societies. What is more interesting than whether or not you accept the existence of sin or not - everybody could fabricate new sins at his own leisure - is to understand that the “Deadly Sins” are intrinsic traits of the human nature and not pathologies. With this view, the Seven Sins are then able to be used to depict multiple nuances of human fascinations, a sort of primary colour chart useful to compliment a richer chromatic palette.

Starting from this hypothesis, Marco Joe Fazio and his team produced seven sets to depict the human “comedy.” Therefore, the stylistic research team used this grid as an ‘interpretation register’, which is not intended as a restraint to experimentation… Quite the opposite, it is a challenge! Personal interpretation is often a perfidious terrain, a mermaid seducing the artist.

Here the challenge was to be creatively engaged within a grounded organisation. Marco founded the basis of a choral work as if it were the building of a cathedral; he managed the synergy between the collaborators, letting them feel free to express themselves while being well directed and harmonised through his constant input and feedback.

The final shot is the outcome of huge work behind the scenes. The actors called to perform the “comedy” are not just the final links of the creative chain, they are the depositaries of the team’s ideas, they are their projections, and they are the exact conveyance of the Seven Deadly Things.

– Iggy Passenger, art consultant

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