A Tribute to Gigi Giannuzzi. By Miss Rosen
I believe that death is not the end, but a new beginning. It is an opportunity for us to reflect on life and discover its deeper meaning. Death appears to sever the spirit from the flesh but perhaps this is not true. Perhaps death transcends our understanding of absolutes. Death allows us to consider what matters in our lives: the people in our world and our purpose here, while on earth. Death, then, is the start of a new revolution, as we come around the circle once again. I believe for every loss there is an equal and opposite gain and I do my best to remember that the dead are not gone. So long as they live within us, their spirit lives on.
Gigi Giannuzzi died on Christmas Eve 2012 at the age of 49. Giannuzzi founded Trolley Books in 2001 and leaves behind more than a decade of art and photography books dedicated to truth, justice, and the beauty that lies in the darkest corners of the soul. A David among Goliaths and a hero among men, Giannuzzi created Trolley as a platform to stand against the exploitation and deception of our fellow man. Possessed with the heart of an activist and the spirit of a maverick, Giannuzzi’s passion for publishing brought into existence books that speak truth to power at any cost.
The nature of the book is one of permanence; we consider the book as part of the historical record. Once put into print, the book is a testament to the greatness and horrors of humankind, and Trolley Books bore witness to this in every volume. Under Giannuzzi’s direction, Trolley has released some of the most difficult stories to tell, stories that have been buried under a mountain of misinformation or ignored all together. Giannuzzi’s genius was to partner with likeminded souls, the artists, journalists, and truthtellers who give of their lives to change the world.
Giannuzzi collaborated with Philip Jones Griffiths, Paolo Pellegrin, Alex Majoli, Stanley Greene, Carl De Keyzer, Nina Berman, Alixandra Fazzina, Thomas Dworzak, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, among others, to produce a series of award-winning books on subjects such as Somalia, Gaza, Chernobyl, Lebanon, Kosovo, Iraq, and Chechnya. These are complex subjects that, when explored in depth, challenge and subvert our understanding of the status quo. Trolley Books ask us to divest ourselves of the government-sponsored propaganda in order to open our hearts and minds to the greater truth behind the veil.
The stories Giannuzzi published are hard to swallow, hard to sell, because they force us to accept that we have been unwittingly complicit in the destruction of our fellow man. Giannuzzi lived in accordance with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s quote, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” We are fortunate Giannuzzi’s integrity demanded no less of him. “I have a deep curiosity about humankind and the way people lives their lives,” Giannuzzi told me in an interview last year. “And books have a physical presence, they don’t fade away and people can read them later. I get satisfaction from touching people’s hearts and reaching them.”
Publishing is a calling that few possess, for it can be spectacularly unprofitable and, despite its prestige, many are consigned to obscurity despite their dedication to the medium. Fortunately for us, Giannuzzi was driven by neither money nor fame but by a need to be the change in the world that he wanted to see. He went hard, and we can see it in the caliber of the books he produced. As art director, production manager, and editor wrapped up in one, Giannuzzi was possessed with the artisan’s touch of his native Italy, where he printed his books. By placing quality over quantity at every turn, his hands-on approach ensured that every Trolley book held to the highest caliber. “Details give feeling to the book,” Giannuzzi observed. “Every little details brings together something that you want to hold in your hand—or not.”
Giannuzzi lived his life with an integrity that inspires and provokes, and it is in his death that his legacy is born and shall be carried forth. Giannuzzi is survived by his wife Masumi, his mother, and his brother as well as by all the artists, authors, and comrades-in-arms in a journey we share together.
“Trolleyology”, an exhibition of art from the first ten years of Trolley Books will be shown at the London New Castle Project Space from 18-27 January 2013. It will feature the work of Nina Berman, Chien Chi-Chang, Thomas Dworzak, Philip Jones Griffiths, Rem Koolhaas, Alex Majoli, Paolo Pellegrin, Nicholas Righetti, Chris Stelle-Perkins, Larry Towell, and Nick Wappington, among many others.