Anastasia is a daughter of street performers. Between 2010 and 2015 she lived in an apartment, which its owner Vincenzo, a professor of physics, had decided to share with people who find themselves in a state of housing emergency. Her mother Alice, her brother Andreij and their dog Leo were among them.
The photographic project, which initially aimed to investigate an alternative way of living, a sort of co-housing during a period of great economic uncertainty and existential fragility, was then transformed into the story of the delicate and difficult transition from childhood to adolescence, lived in an atypical context.
Anastasia is now 20 years old and she lives in Verona, northern Italy, with her boyfriend Andrea. They are both studying to became professional musicians.
I met Anastasia in a bar: I was drinking a glass of wine with some friends, Vincenzo was among them. I noticed that little girl who said hello, and asked Vincenzo who she was. He told me her story and that she was living in his place. I was fascinated by her, she wasn’t shy at all and she projected a peculiar strength in her voice, in her face, in her eyes. I just asked her if I could take some pictures of her and her daily life – she accepted. So I became her “official photographer”. I spent a lot of time in that apartment, with Anastasia, her mother, Vincenzo and their flatmate Flavio. Anastasia is a really good singer and at the time she was studying piano and guitar and she was often offering “private concerts”. We used to go out with her dog Leo, watch videos on youtube, trying to speak English (she is bilingual because of her father, while I’m quite bad), and also go to the bar where we first met to drink pear juice with milk (I used to order a glass of wine, to be honest). It wasn’t just because of the pictures, of course – it was a pleasure to spend time with her. I also found it really interesting the way they lived together. Money was always an issue – they didn’t have much – but it didn’t seem to be a big problem.
A few months after I met her, Alice realized she was pregnant. At that time she was in a relationship with Bolek, a Polish street performer she was crazily in love with. He was really handsome, he spoke Spanish, he drank a lot and was an excellent mime artist. I would have loved to portray him but he was always refusing. Later, sadly, it became impossible.
When Andreij was born, Alice and Bolek went to live with the baby in another flat, leaving Anastasia with Vincenzo and Flavio, as she preferred.
Whoever lived there, the apartment was often a mess. They were always trying to clean and tidy up, but it was never enough.
They used to leave notes on the kitchen cabinet with their wishes, but they rarely were turned into practice.
Since Alice, Bolek and their baby were gone, Anastasia had to cook, make her laundry, look after herself… Although she didn’t always manage to handle everything, she was quite perseverant. She was only 13 years old. I was a bit worried.
Everything was changing too fast. In few months Alice, Bolek and the baby left their apartment and went to live to Canary Islands. They were looking for a better lifestyle. The winter is hard in Verona, and working as a street performer is even harder. Anastasia couldn’t stay alone, so she went to live with her grandparents in Friuli Region. We didn’t see each other for a long time. I used to check on her Facebook page, and she looked fine. I remember a picture of her and her new friend…they were wearing similar glasses. I thought it was nice, because in her school, in Verona, she didn’t have many friends, so she was always surrounded by adults. I was her youngest friend, and I was nearly 30.
In spring 2012 Bolek died in Canary Islands while he was swimming. Alice and Andreij were waiting for him on the beach.
Vincenzo called me to tell me what had happened.
After a few weeks Alice went back to Vincenzo’s place and at the end of the school year, Anastasia went back too.
Only several months later Alice was able to talk about what happened. She published a post on her Facebook page, announcing that after a period of pain, depression and psychotherapy, she was finally coming back to life.
Next winter was a bit harder. Anastasia looked anxious. Alice had met a new boyfriend and they were traveling a lot.
She was quickly growing up. I suddenly realized she wasn’t a child anymore.
I was thinking that Anastasia wasn’t fine, so I decided to ask her to go to Milan together, from time to time. My boyfriend was living there and I used to spend my weekends with him. She accepted. I hoped it would help.
In Milan Anastasia met some new friends. It didn’t last long, but it was nice. In the “Milan period”, we went to a vintage market, we were going to restaurants, we watched movies, we went to the Chinese Carnival, we ate pizza wearing pajamas.
After the ‘Milan period’, Anastasia met her boyfriend Andrea.
She looked so incredibly happy, and I was happy too.
Meanwhile, I had moved to Spain and we were seeing each other only occasionally in Verona.
Alice was still together with her new boyfriend, Jerko, a street performer who was a friend of Bolek.
Andreij had spent some weeks in Poland with his grandparents and learned Polish. He refused to wear clothes.
During the week, Anastasia was still living in the same apartment, with Vincenzo, Flavio, Alice, Jerko and Andreij. She used to spend weekends in Milan with her boyfriend and his family.
One year later, I was having lunch in Barcelona when I received some pictures on my mobile phone: Anastasia was showing me her new apartment.
She wrote me that she was going to live with Andrea and she was thrilled.
After 6 years they are still in love and they still live together.
In 2020, they bought together a flat in Verona downtown.
Alice lives in Croatia with Jerko and Andreij.