October 22, 2012

London to Paris

On the ferry to Calais, one and a half hour to cross. People were resting.

October 22, 2012

London to Paris

We arrived in Dover around 9pm. We waited for our ferry for about half hour, and eventually we embarked with hundreds of other vans, trucks, and cars.

While we were waiting, Stefan got out of the car to buy some energy drinks, to be sure to stay awake for the remaining four-hour drive. He got back with his energy water - and with lots of chocolates.

October 22, 2012

London to Paris

Paola, a good friend of mine from Rome, moved from London to Paris a couple of years ago. I hadn’t seen her in many years, and we bought realized it would be a shame not to see each other now that we were so close - only a two-and-a-half hour Eurostar trip from London to Paris. On the other hand, buying a ticket with little advance was going to be too expensive for me - no way I could make it. But Paola is a resourceful woman (and a wonderful friend): she told me her friend Stefan had to buy a van in London and he would then get back to Paris, at her place, where he was staying - and he would have loved to have company for the journey.

We left London on a busy Sunday at the end of September, around 6pm. It took us two hours to get out of the city. We spent our time looking up skyscrapers-to-be under the rain.

October 22, 2012

London detour (7)

Wood Green. This is the neighbourhood in North London where I used to live. It’s poorer than other areas in London, and it’s part of the area where the 2011 riots erupted. 

Silvia, one of my best friends and ex-housemate in Wood Green, and I wanted to pay a visit to our old street. She moved after I left the UK for California, but we’re still fond of our Wood Green. When we lived there we used to go to the off-licence shop around the corner, especially for late-night treats… we had made friend with the man who worked there almost all of the time: he was a lovely guy. We were happily surprised to see he still worked there, and we were greatly moved by the fact that he still remembered us, after almost three years. 

October 22, 2012
This is Maria Rosa. She a good friend of one of my best friends and, while I was in London, we spent a wonderful evening at a Moroccan restaurant in Shoreditch. Maria Rosa has  PhD in chemistry, and she has been working in London for many years. 
During our dinner, I heard her talk on the phone with her family in a language I had never heard of, and I asked what it was. She explained she belongs to a little community in Calabria (Southern Italy) called Arbëreshë. The Arbëreshë are a linguistic and ethnic minority of Albanian origins: after the Ottoman invasion of Albania between the 15th and the 18th centuries, many people living in the conquered areas moved to the Eastern coast of Southern Italy - that’s where most their descendants are still living nowadays. They speak the Arbërisht language, an old Albanian dialect.

This is Maria Rosa. She a good friend of one of my best friends and, while I was in London, we spent a wonderful evening at a Moroccan restaurant in Shoreditch. Maria Rosa has  PhD in chemistry, and she has been working in London for many years.

During our dinner, I heard her talk on the phone with her family in a language I had never heard of, and I asked what it was. She explained she belongs to a little community in Calabria (Southern Italy) called Arbëreshë. The Arbëreshë are a linguistic and ethnic minority of Albanian origins: after the Ottoman invasion of Albania between the 15th and the 18th centuries, many people living in the conquered areas moved to the Eastern coast of Southern Italy - that’s where most their descendants are still living nowadays. They speak the Arbërisht language, an old Albanian dialect.

October 22, 2012

At Oxford University

October 3, 2012
The conference on “Music and Politics” (where I had to give a talk) was held at King’s College, adjacent to the Somerset House on the Strand, where the London Fashion Week had just started. At lunchtime, my friend Delia and I went to our favourite panini place, run by a Portuguese family, on the corner between the Strand and the Waterloo Bridge. We sat in front of a big window and watched people passing by.

The conference on “Music and Politics” (where I had to give a talk) was held at King’s College, adjacent to the Somerset House on the Strand, where the London Fashion Week had just started. At lunchtime, my friend Delia and I went to our favourite panini place, run by a Portuguese family, on the corner between the Strand and the Waterloo Bridge. We sat in front of a big window and watched people passing by.

September 25, 2012

London detour (3)

Yesterday I had to take a train from St. Pancras International. At 9 in the morning, and when I got back around 10pm, I stopped to listen to the people playing the street pianos

The little kid was playing slow, single notes. He seemed to be very careful, like he wanted to find the right one. His dad, on his right, didn’t show the same level of patience: “Come on! we have to leave”. But the boy wasn’t paying attention to him.

The young man on the left was improvising a complicated piece, perhaps his own. He stopped when he saw me taking a photo of him, and we both smiled and laughed.

The man on the third photo on the right was an employee of the station. He was playing Adele’s “Someone Like You,” while chatting to his friend. It was 10pm, St. Pancras was almost still, resounding with the piano music.

Play me, I’m yours - “Touring internationally since 2008, “Play Me, I’m Yours” is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over two million people worldwide – more than 700 pianos have already been installed in cities across the globe, from New York to Sydney, bearing the simple instruction ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’.

Located in public parks, bus shelters and train stations, outside galleries and markets and even on bridges and ferries, the pianos are available for any member of the public to play and enjoy. Who plays them and how long they remain is up to each community. Many pianos are personalised and decorated by artists or the local community. By creating a place of exchange ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment.”

September 23, 2012

Re-reading Susan Sontag: Regarding the Pain of Others and the possibility of sincerity

I saw this book at the big and nice Foyles bookshop, on Charing Cross Road, and started re-reading it. I had forgot about it, and how much it affects the way I think about capturing images. It came out in 2003, the year before Sontag’s death. It is mainly about war photography, and it tackles issues of responsibilities of the photographer and of the recipients of the photographs, and of the (often subdued) status of the people that are the subject of the images, in a media-saturated society. While she comments at length on the ethical limitations of photography, in the end I think she believes in a “possibility of sincerity” and of the importance of creating images, even in a cynical, privileged, Westernized environment.

Sontag contradicts herself and her previous self (from On Photography, mainly) but her evolving ideas throughout the years are one of the reasons why I find her thinking so challenging, rewarding and sincere.

"It is not a defect that we are not seared, that we do not suffer enough, when we see images [of human suffering]. Neither is the photograph supposed to repair out ignorance about the history and causes of the suffering it picks out and frames. Such images cannot be more than an invitation to pay attention, to reflect, to learn, to examine the rationalizations for mass suffering offered by established powers. Who caused what the picture shows? Who is responsible? It is excusable? Was it inevitable? Is there some state of affairs which we have accepted up to now tha ought to be challenged? All this with the understanding that moral indignation, like compassion, cannot indicate a course of action.”(Susan Sontag)

September 18, 2012
London detour (2)
This was in 2010.
“Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It’s yours to take, rearrange and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.”  Bansky, Wall and Piece (2005)

London detour
(2)

This was in 2010.

Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It’s yours to take, rearrange and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.”  Bansky, Wall and Piece (2005)

September 18, 2012

London detour

(1)

I’m in the UK for three weeks, for a conference on music and politics.

In 2007, I moved to London and remained there for a couple of years before moving to the States. (I left Italy because I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, and my university in Rome, where I was enrolled, was a disaster). In London, I met people who are now my best friends, and I try to come back once a year, when I’m in Italy for the summer.

Everytime I go to London, the city appears different. This is both because its geography moves fast, and because I come to it from ever-changing perspectives. 

I took these photos on the last day of the Paralympics Games, on September 9 2012. Southbank was alive as I had never seen it. Children took over the river banks, that were covered by multi-colored sand. The day was gorgeous, and the wind wasn’t blowing. Jet trails lingered in the skies for hours.

September 8, 2012

TORTORETO, July 2006.

This is Fatima, next to the Terror. Fatima and I met many years ago in Tortoreto. She came to Italy with her family - her parents, a younger sister, and a baby brother born in Italy - from Tunisia. Her parents worked in factories during the winter, and during the summer they would sell clothes at the beach. Last time we spoke she told me she wanted to study economics in college because she thought it’s one of the most important subjects and it also makes it easier to find a job.

September 4, 2012

TORTORETO, August.

I wanted to go and talk to the fishermen and tell them that I was taking photos of them. And I also felt it was stupid that I see them every day and never talked to them. I started chatting to the guy with the red shirt; the other one was a little shy, I think. We started chatting right away and for such a long time that in the end we forgot to ask each other’s names. 

"Ah, eri tu, disgraziata!" (It was you, disgraziata! [I have to think on how to translate this. Literally, it means "unlucky, wretch", but it has very specific familiar and warm connotations in Southern Italy]) he told me laughing after I told me that I had been taking photos the other night. He would speak half in Italian, half in a dialect I couldn’t recognize precisely at first - then he told me his family has lived in Tortoreto for generations. I’m not familiar with the Tortoreto accent because all the people I know only come to Tortoreto for the summer. We don’t know many people who live in Tortoreto all year long.

I asked him if they sleep at all, as I know they go out at night, and I see them every morning cleaning the fish.

"Il letto mio è sempre rifatto. Sembra ‘no scherzo ma non sto a scherzà. Noi usciamo alle tre, rientriamo alle otto." (My bed is always made, always ready. Sounds like a joke, but it’s not a joke. We go out at three at night, we get back at eight.)

And do they still find all the fish they need to sell? I always hear the old people in Tortoreto saying that the sea is too polluted and exploited, and “fishing is over” (in dialect, “lu mar s’ha f’nt” - literally, “the sea is over”).

"Sc’ne… li cannulicchij, li sogliole… li sogliole so’ quelle che ce serve, ma se ne trov’ poc!" (Well, yes… cannolicchi, soles… we need soles, people want them, but there’s too few!)

And are they alone when they go out in the sea at night? and how far do they go?

"Sette, otto kilometri… non stiamo da soli, ci mettiamo sempre vicini all’altra barca di quelli di Giulianova, sono amici." (Seven, eight kilometers… we’re not alone, we always stay close to the other boat… the guys from Giulianova, they’re friends.)

September 4, 2012

TORTORETO. August.

"Terror" is the name of one of the fishing vessels in Tortoreto. It’s part of the landscape, it’s like it’s always been there. It’s an ugly, tough boat. 

The moon was full at the end of August, I was at the beach, and I saw the fishermen coming back and pushing the boat to the shore.

September 4, 2012
TORTORETO, on the Adriatic Coast of Abruzzo. August.
Toretoreto is where my sister and I go to the beach. It’s not a very touristic place. It’s not particularly pretty, the sea is polluted (this year more than ever) and there’s not much to do, but I’m fond of it because we’ve been there every summer and we can spend time with our cousins and childhood friends there.
I love that we barely have to wear clothes, we can walk barefoot and go on foot or bike everywhere. 
In the photo, my aunt (on the right) and her friend. My aunt’s name is Leondina, but my sister and I call her “zia Amore” (aunt Love) because she would always call us “amore” when we were little. 

TORTORETO, on the Adriatic Coast of Abruzzo. August.

Toretoreto is where my sister and I go to the beach. It’s not a very touristic place. It’s not particularly pretty, the sea is polluted (this year more than ever) and there’s not much to do, but I’m fond of it because we’ve been there every summer and we can spend time with our cousins and childhood friends there.

I love that we barely have to wear clothes, we can walk barefoot and go on foot or bike everywhere. 

In the photo, my aunt (on the right) and her friend. My aunt’s name is Leondina, but my sister and I call her “zia Amore” (aunt Love) because she would always call us “amore” when we were little. 

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