This is the controversial photographer’s statement about the tragedy in which 43 people died: “But who cares about a bridge falling?”
Getting on the train of provocation draws the shortest line towards media impact, but the risk of derailment is too high. Oliviero Toscani, well known for his controversial advertising campaigns, knows it well. Italian fashion firm Benetton has confirmed last Thursday the dismissal of its hitherto creative director. The photographer, in an interview for Italian radio Rai, said that “who is interested in a bridge falling”, referring to the Genoa viaduct that collapsed a year and a half ago causing 43 fatalities.
This statement came after being asked about the role of his boss, Luciano Benetton, in the accident, since the president of the firm is a shareholder of Atlantia, whose subsidiary Autostrade per l’Italy was responsible for managing the bridge. “The 43 innocent dead for him will count little, but for us they were everything,” said Egle Possetti, president of the collapse victims association. The political sphere soon joined. Giovanni Toti, governor of the Liguria region, where Genoa is located, declared himself “indignant” and demanded that Toscani apologize and Giorgina Meloni, leader of the far-right party Fratelli di Italia, called it “shame.”
Toscani’s justification in social networks came soon. Through his Twitter account, he claimed that his comment had been taken out of context: “I regret that my words, extrapolated and confusing, justify madness like that, that the bridge does not interest me at all. Like everyone, I am interested and outraged by that tragedy. But it is absurd that some journalists ask me to admit responsibilities. ”
The fashion firm has closed the controversy by firing the photographer. “The Benetton group and its president, Luciano Benetton, dissociate themselves in the most absolute way from Oliveiro Toscani’s claims about the collapse of the Morandi bridge and recognize the impossibility of continuing the collaborative relationship with its artistic director Oliveiro Toscani,” said the company.
However, the relationship between the photographer and the Italian brand has always been complicated. In 2000, after 18 years as the creative soul of the company, Benetton fired him for a campaign starring death row inmates that negatively affected the company. In 2018 he was hired again, but his inclination for controversy continued with photos with an anorexic model, kissing political leaders or an AIDS patient.