These are the last things, she wrote. One by one they disappear and never come back. I can tell you of the ones I have seen, of the ones that are no more, but I doubt there will be time. It is all happening too fast now, and I cannot keep up.
I don’t expect you to understand. You have seen none of this, and even if you tried, you could not imagine it. These are the last things. A house is there one day, and the next day it is gone. A street you walked down yesterday is no longer there today. Even the weather is in constant flux. A day of sun followed by a day of rain, a day of snow followed by a day of fog, warm then cool, wind then stillness, a stretch of bitter cold, and then today, in the middle of winter, an afternoon of fragrant light, warm to the point of merely sweaters. When you live in the city, you learn to take nothing for granted. Close your eyes for a moment, turn around to look at something else, and the thing that was before you is suddenly gone. Nothing lasts, you see, not even the thoughts inside you. And you mustn’t waste your time looking for them. Once a thing is gone, that is the end of it.
( Paul Auster In the Country of the Last Things )
Rayuela is the Spanish name for hopscotch and can be translated as "the game of the world”. To me, it represents a metaphore of the process of growth, a glance at my childhood fantasies, that now have become eerie visions of a world that I cannot recognize anymore.
We are ghosts and child monsters of all kinds ourselves.
Portraits and self-portraits go along in an uninterrupted flow with nature and animals, life and death. Being born and raised in the countryside of a small village in northern Italy, I remember those elements as part of my childhood’s fantasies, but as time passed by, and I grew up, it all fell into oblivion.
Since what shapes the nature of photography is time itself, photographs became my own memory.
Thus, my work lies in a concept of photography as a vital experience. The camera allows me to explore the relationships between man and nature, the individual and the cultural, the real and the psychological.
But it’s also a game I play, although a very serious game: photographs are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible of all things. Being aware of that, I tend to create disembodiment, to a certain point on purpose, because I’m suspicious of reality.
I’m obsessed by the vertigo that happens when we perceive the usual order is undermined.
A slight laceration in the texture of our visible world. It’s an aged world, with cracks and fissures, dust. There are parts thin as glass-plates, too eerie to walk upon. And finally, there’s the ambiguity of objects : life and death, dream and reality, face and mask blur.
What moves appears stiff, what is still seems possessed by an unsettling life.
This world has a plant and animal life clearly related to organic decay.
I’m interested in those zones where time takes over life, places that seem to invite birds to nest.
Uncut / Kenya
Uncut project / 2015
Feb 6 2016 The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation
In Kenya, 27% of women have undergone female genital mutilation. The national prevalence varies within the more than 40 ethnic groups present in the country, and in the Maasai society (around 2% of the population) it reaches 73%. The semi-nomadic cattle herders, obstinately devoted to a patriarchal social system, impose the traditional knife ormurunya on 10-11 year-old girls that entails the removal of the clitoris and the labia minora. Emuatare - the Maasai word for female circumcisionis less ferocious than the infibulation typically carried out in the Horn of Africa, which concludes with sewing the vagina closed, but it still disfigures a woman’s body condemning it to haemorrhages, infections, and complications during childbirth. In the Maasai society, it’s still considered a necessary rite of passage from childhood to adult womanhood
Prevalence of the cut has decreased 20% among the Maasai in Kenya in 12 years, but the struggle towards women’s liberation is still rough around the edges.
In West Pokot, most of the population belongs to the Pokot ethnic group: they have a patriarchal social system and FGM - though it’s illegal in Kenya since 2001 is considered a necessary rite of passage, for women, from childhood to adulthood. Theresa and other 100 women have created a network of “foster mothers”, hosting in their homes girls who are escaping from FGM and early forced marriages.
According to the latest UNICEF data, more than 125 million women worldwide have suffered from FGM: usually considered a pre-marriage purification and a guarantee of monogamy, it actually causes psycho-physical damage and even death, along with girls’ school dropouts and women’s social subordination. Since 2012, with a patient work, the Kongelai Women’s Network has been persuading also the men and elders of the community that FGM only brings suffering and ignorance to everyone. Healthy and educated girls, instead, will participate in local economy producing development for the whole society.
A project by Emanula Zuccalà
Project produced by:
the Journalism Grant
in collaboration with
Il Corriere della Sera
Uncut / Somaliland
Uncut project / Somaliland
When fear gets hold of me
When anger seizes my body
When hate becomes my companion
Then I get feminine advice, because it is only feminine pain
And I am told feminine pain perishes
like all feminine things.
— Dahabo Ali Muse, "Feminine Pains" poem, 1998
HARGEISA — "On my wedding night, it felt like having a flame on an open wound," the woman with honey-colored eyes says, enraged. "He enjoyed it, but I experienced the same pain I felt when I was a little girl and they cut open my genitalia with a razor and then sewed it closed with thorns," she continues. "I couldn’t move for 10 days because my legs were tied together, and I couldn't even go to the bathroom. My memory of it is still bitter and intact."
On the outskirts of Daami, the undergrowth overflows with garbage and the round huts are covered in rags. Nuura Mahamud Muse, 35 and the mother of six girls, sits on a filthy mat and remembers the torture ritual that her country practices to sanction female virginity. "I won't let my daughters to be touched, though," she says over the noontime call to worship. "I don't want them to suffer like I do every menstrual cycle, during sexual intercourse, when giving birth. I don't care if the neighbors badmouth me."
Daami is situated beyond the Waaheen River shoal in Hargeisa, the windy capital of Somaliland, a republic not easily found on a map. North of the Horn of Africa, the former British Somalia declared independence from the former Italian Somalia in 1991 to disengage from the conflict that continues today in Mogadishu. But it paid for its freedom by being virtually non-existent. The international community doesn't recognize this state of four million residents, who are divided into three family clans that, aside from the war, have everything else in common with Somalia: language, poverty and a patriarchal culture that blends Islam with ancient traditions.
“On the wedding night, they use to cut you with a blade so that you can have intercourse and get pregnant”. Talaado Adam defines helself “an old woman” even though she’s only 35 and is able to dance her traditional music as an elegant dragonfly. But in this hot valley, the most steaming place you can imagine on earth, you can read on the people’s faces that life is a hard struggle. Especially for women, who work hard in the maize and sorghum fields and suffer from a much higer mortality rate than men, since they’re traditionally subjected to the most severe form of genital mutilation, known as infibulation, which ends up in a lot of health complications.
The Waredube community is a Muslim group living in the Oromyia region, in Ethiopia, 6 hours South of Addis Abeba. When the Ethiopian government claims it will soon eradicate female genital mutilations from the country (that now has a prevalence of 74% and counts a 23.8 million victims), surely it’s forgetting this isolated population who doesn’t even have electricity nor water.
Their enchanting landscape, made of green gorges and majestic mountains that seem sculpted by an emphatic artist, hides one of the most dramatic health situations for women in the country. Here, women are cut and stitched several times in their lives: when they’re young, as a seal of chastity; after the birth of every child; and when their husbands stay away for working, as a guarantee of monogamy. The nearest health center is 9 hours walking from here, so it’s frequent that women die, while giving birth inside their huts.
Today, Taalado and a group of courageous women are fighting for things to change. Involving also men and religious leaders in order to demand the respect of their rights.
Text by Emanuela Zuccalà
Just to Let You Know that I'm Alive
Degja Lachgare was taken from her home in 1980 and shuttled between different secret prisons for 11 years, most of which she spent blindfolded, in constant terror of interrogation and torture.
Soukaina Jid Ahloud spent nearly a decade of her life naked in a cell, while outside her youngest daughter was dying of starvation.
Leila Dambar, a modern day Antigone, cannot lay her brother Said’s body to rest. He died in December 2010, killed by the police in unclear circumstances: since then, the family has been asking the Moroccan government for an autopsy but hasn’t received any answer yet.
Enforced disappearances, tortures, secret prisons, mass graves and no trials yet. The story of Western Sahara, the territory south of Morocco with an as yet undefined political status, is marked by a dark sequence of human rights violations. It’s considered the last African colony: the referendum for their independence from Morocco has always been deferred, despite of several UN resolutions and international Courts’ judgments. Since 1975, Saharawi people have been living half in the occupied Western Sahara and half in refugee camps in Algeria where they fled during the war against Morocco (1975-1991), asking for asylum. In this desert, known as “the devil’s garden”, they funded the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, recognized by about 80 countries in the world, member of the African Union and with observers at the UN. Today, the Saharawis live divided by a 2,700 km wall built by Morocco: a deep and long wound throughout the Sahara desert.
Just to Let You Know That I’m Alive is an attempt to give voices to the women of the Saharawi people who suffered from some of the most severe and under-reported human rights abuses in the last thirty years.
(text by: Emanuela Zuccalà)
A work produced thanks to The Aftermath Project
Just to let you know that I'm alive - Trailer
The Gaza Strip. Afterdark
I never liked the nights (Ala)
05 dec 2010
Erez has been closed since four days, due to unspecified security reasons. It's the first time in my life I feel I can't go out from a place. Here is a normal experience. My fixer Sami was laughing at my preoccupations, he told me: " Don't you know? We say: smile, you're in Gaza." "What does it mean?" I asked. He laughed loud and said: "Welcome to hell".
14 dec 2010
The sun is shining over Gaza city, the air smells like sweet flowers. Blackouts are over for today and without the constant buzzing of the generators I can now hear the sound of the waves coming from my open window. Days like this, you could be anywhere.
31 march 2011
I found an abandoned house in Rafah, close to the border. It was evacuated overnight during the war and it's sealed since then: scapped paperwalls, lost shoes and a cup of tea.
03 april 2011
Humans, they keep going, preserve memories of the past, build and re-build. Get married. Give birth. Keep sending children to school knowing that they will have really a few chances to get a good job, to travel abroad. And so life passes almost without traces in the “in between” of one military operation and the next one.
5 april 2011
Yesterday I brought the Awaja children to the zoo. They were happy, but the animals were sad. The owner of the zoo told me he can't afford the maintenance any further. He lost half of the animals during Cast Lead, the lyon and the hyena died of starving, the giraffe and the zebra of distress and fear. After the war the children kept asking him about the zebra, he didn't want to tell them it died. So he took a white donkey and painted black stripes on it. So it was born the very famous gazan zebra.
Gaza has something that prevents you from desperation, some kind of melody of horror and beauty.
31 april 2011
Houses of unstuck bricks, zinc, stinky mattresses, red sands instead of roads, missing pieces, garbage burning at the crossings, empty eyes. Feeling tired.
01 december 2012
I passed through Erez again. so here I am.
It seems ages since I was here last time, or perhaps just the blink of an eye. The very first impression is of a motionless time. Some fresh new holes from Pillar of Clouds replacing those from Scortching Summer replacing those from Cast Lead.
In Gaza you move in circles, willing or not. It's packed of people moving in circles. New streets, roads that you've never taken before, are rapidly over. The scars of the last war still too fresh to be covered. The rubble has just moved a few meters away, it's scary to walk through, as if you might awake some nightmare sleeping under.
As soon as I got to Erez I saw the smiling face of Sami. We hugged for I don't know how long, making the police nervous. We went to his daughters, I brought presents. But first, Sami wanted to show me where the accident happened. He showed me a wide open area with a huge hole in the ground. the bomb fell and a splinter run 300 meters far, it broke an iron door and ended its deadly run on his daughter's hand, chopping it from her. His daughter A. is 7 and wants to be a painter. Sami is always smiling, but he changed.
03 january 2013
One of my best friends there, M., is my age and he’s doing drugs all the time. The drugs he can get despite the embargo are mainly a kind of heavy painkillers, used for war mutilations. When he takes one, it makes him sleep for 2 days. During the Operation Pillar of Defence I called him to know if he was ok, and I found him listening to reggae music and smoking joints. I was worried that if an alert missile would have been sent in his nearby, he wouldn’t have been able to escape quickly. But he was laughing at my questions and saying: “You can’t kill someone who’s already dead”.
more editorial work at: www.mapsimages.com
While You Were Sleeping
Migrations, made by choice or by force, are the basic experience of our times.
Just a few generations ago, the home was the centre of the social network; moving away meant more than losing a shelter, it meant losing the boundaries of our own identity.
Nowadays in Italy, my generation, aged between 30 and 40, lives intensely this feeling of disorientation and loss of roots, caused by the economical crisis and the consequent struggle for some economic and emotive stability.
Moving from one place to another, trying to find better life conditions, a job, a love, or just for the uneasiness of staying our whole life in one place, makes us some more socially fragile entities on one hand, on the other we tend to create new “ extended families”, where friends take on all the duties traditionally entitled to the family of origin.
Quod me nutrit me destruit
Odd Days is aproject focused on the feeding troubles and on the long and hard way to recovery.
I visited three different public centers for long term rehabilitation of Eating Disorders: Palazzo Francisci in Todi, Center Italy, Portogruaro Eating Disorder Rehabilitation Center in the Northeast, and Centro Gioia in the South.
Palazzo Francisci is one of leading public centre for the treatment of this kind of ailments: it permanently puts up, for a minimum period of three months, ten to fifteen persons, men and women of different ages, that suffer from anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.
Moreover, an unsettled number of patients is in a semi-residence state, that means they daily take part to the activities of the centre, even though they stay in exterior accommodation facilities.
“In Italy there are ambulatories, day hospital but there’s a heavy lack of residential nursing home for the rehabilitative cure, states Laura Dalla Ragione, director of the centre. "there are about ten public clinics and a few private in the centre-North, but for who falls ill under Todi there is not a reference centre, neither public nor private”.
The model of Palazzo Francisci is based on an integrated approach of several disciplines, from the behavioural and psychological therapy to the no-conventional medicine treatments: relaxation and meditation, auricular acupuncture, biological medicine, dance-therapy and support groups.
Due to their bond with the corporeal identity, with the self-safety and with the appearance obsession, the troubles of the food behaviour are very widespread and they well represent the contradictions of our time.
It is very difficult to estimate the real number of people suffering of Eating Disorders, due to the fact that it is a relatively new disease, but what is clear is that the spreading of these ailments in the last 10 years has been literally epidemical, and it currently doesn’t spare even men and boys, besides appearing always sooner, even in a prepuberal age. A recent study states that in Italy Eating disorders are the first cause of death for disease between young women, aged 12 to 25.
Simona and Carla 2010
Centre for long-term therapy. Todi 2008
Tutto parla di te
Pauline's dream / photographs created for "Tutto parla di te" , a movie by Alina Marazzi. With Charlotte Rampling, Elena Radonicich, Valerio Binasco, Maria Grazia Mandruzzato (Italy, 2012)
I was with my newborn son when a woman drew near saying to me with a smile: "How beautiful babies are in the arms of others!" An apparently banal comment made me reflect on the conflicts that can occur in a mother-child relationship. Every mother is aware of that sentiment in balance between love and refusal of her own child. It's a painful tension to experience and very hard to confess, inasmuch as rubbing against the common conception of that primordial bond. With this film, I wanted to explore and dramatize the ambivalence of the maternal sentiment and the resistance, which even till this day, there is in accepting and facing it. To honor the complexity of this sentiment, I chose to integrate the fictional with diverse elements: archive footage, animated clips, documentary sequences, through which I could evoke the various emotional levels this tension gives rise to in those living through it.