On March the 9th the Italian government imposed a lockdown to prevent the spread of the pandemic of Covid-19. Since then, 60 million people have been living under one of the most severe quarantines in Europe.
When Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced the beginning of the so-called «Phase 1» of the lockdown, I found myself stuck in the coastal city of Genoa. A place I barely knew. A place I ended up exploring in its pandemic desolation.
The emptiness of the city amplified its glorious and mysterious past. Known to be the alleged birthplace of explorer Cristopher Columbus, for centuries Genoa played a central role in the history of the Mediterranean region. Its port, mandatory destination for traders hailing from the great empires of the East and from the New World in the West, is now facing the consequences of the global economic slowdown. This reverberates into the deep identity crisis the whole city has been facing for decades.
A crisis and a pandemic. Commissioned by Are Europe, I wondered how I could effectively tell these two stories from the right angle, with an honest visual representation.
I felt disoriented, caught in the middle of the constant flux of images the mass media offered «visualise» the effects of the virus on our lives: packed hospitals, portraits of doctors and nurses painstakingly fighting the spread of Coronavirus, lines and lines of coffins.
While locked at home, connecting with the outer world needs a mediation. And images play a crucial part in forming our idea of what is going on out there.
At first, I was skeptical about portraying a collective experience with an objective and informative approach. But then, while wandering around the narrow alleys of the old town, I realised that in order to find a way to convey this daunting feeling of stillness and suspension, I had to let the emotions take the lead and guide me through this long, lone ly walks, and its casual encounters.