Ignite is a space where Prospekt photographers share thoughts, notes, unfinished or discarded projects and discussions on various themes. It is a glimpse into the photographers’ processes beyond the final projects.
In the previous years I was mainly working abroad or for international clients, and in 2020, for the first time, I have created a professional project that would connect me deeper to the social fabric of the city. On 20th of March, together with my friend and colleague Yaiza Hérnandez, I should have celebrated the opening of our art gallery in the beautiful neighborhood of Gracia.
We were thrilled. The 15th of March the lockdown started.
At the time I’m writing, almost 7 months later, the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain is still critical. At the beginning of September Spain became the first EU state to record more than half-a-million cases since the beginning of the outbreak. Due to the measure to fight the pandemic, twelve years after plunging into a protracted economic crisis, Spain is dealing now with a new and unexpected economic shock. According to El Pais, in August the number of households with no working members has risen to 1.14 million.
In Barcelona many bars, restaurants, clubs and shops are closed for good, many friends of mine are looking for a job unsuccessfully, the real estate prices are still unsustainabily high, the uncertainty is increasing day by day and the city is creepily empty (though beautiful in a way).
As a consequence, I have started to notice that more and more people from the huge international community are leaving the city to go back to their countries.
I am in the same process, considering to move back to Italy, unless the situation improves.
That’s why I’ve recently started a new photo project, that might be called “The last day in Barcelona”, which aims to tell the story of a new migratory trend : from Barcelona back to homeland.
It is a revolutionary change for a city whose almost half of the residents have been born abroad and one out of five is of foreign nationality.
The first person I have had the chance to portray is an artist called Alek.
Born in Teheran, Iran, when he was 13 years old, due to the Islamic Revolution, he moved to Armenia with his family.
When the war started in Armenia, they moved to Poland.
In 2002 he settled down in Barcelona, where he developed his career as a painter and photographer, at least until COVID-19 started.
His flat contract was going to expire, job opportunities were scarce, so he decided to leave Barcelona and go back to Armenia.
The 21st of September was his last day in his flat in which he had lived for 18 years.
Being artistically devoted to nude photography genre (he made thousands of pictures of naked women while living in Spain) he decided to spend the last hours at his place by using the completely empty apartment as a set for his last photo shooting.
Soon after he finished, I asked him to pose naked for me in a sort of ironic nemesis: the “photographer of naked woman” was finally portrayed naked by a female photographer in front of the his model.
2020 is the strangest year: the day after he arrived in Armenia, a new unexpected war started.
The process of discovery, the process of unveiling someone’s fortunes or misfortunes of tarots’ reading is not far from my idea of photography but there are more than one analogy with tarot cards: in almost all my bodies of work almost every picture has an evident subject, a single element, a person or an object that throughout the photograph, acquires a larger meaning, becomes a symbol of something bigger and collective, a new archetype: the child, the staircase, the mask, the hanged child. Usually, as a photographer, I don’t want to leave a complete subjectivity in the reading of an image; I try to suggest the meaning of my pictures but, as with tarot cards, different readers give different meanings to what they see.