The Isolation Portraits Project - Part II

If you don’t know what this project is about, read my previous blog post, before going on!
I’m enjoying writing about this as much as I did photographing and video calling everyone. Writing about the first meeting with every person sends me directly to another era and this is very moving. This project has become my personal madeleine.

Marta

I met Marta in 2015, on my first day of internship at the Origin Gallery, Dublin. I had been in Ireland for almost one year at that time, studying English and other stuff like web design. That was my first “job” experience in Ireland.
God, If I think of myself back then… How quickly things can change! Anyway, when I met Marta, she had been working at the Gallery for one week. So she already knew what a character the gallery owner was. Working there is a real Life Experience, a brain drainer and a great school of how-to-survive-under-constant-pressure kind of thing. And that was if you were lucky enough to be a native English speaker.
Under those circumstances, Marta and I bonded immediately. She is younger than me so I felt she was like a little sister to me, especially because she was in a complicated sentimental relationship when I met her, and constantly looking for advice or just to talk with someone to let it go.
Marta is one of the very few people in the world that when I look at I feel calm and relieved (another one who comes to my mind is Brad Pitt. Unfortunately I’ve never stared at him in person, though). Jokes aside, she is Sun and Peace and I really hope one day we will live a bit closer to share more spritz and laughter.

marta

I’m Marta and I’m a proud Italian. I live in Veneto, a region full of beautiful Art and Nature.
I love travelling, cooking, watching movies, but above all I like spending time with the people I love.
Despite my studies in Art History, I work in the field of Human Resources. My dream is that each person in the world does the perfect job for them and can fully express their potential.
I sincerely believe that a good laugh is the remedy for anything, that’s why I particularly enjoy people with a sharp sense of humor!

I speak Italian cause it’s my mother tongue and I live in Italy.
I speak English cause I love it and I have some foreign friends.
I speak a little Spanish cause I studied it in school.
I speak very little German and French cause I studied them in school, unfortunately now I don’t remember them well.

Essere soli per me significa sentirsi abbandonati e senza punti di riferimento. La vera solitudine non è quindi essere fisicamente soli, anche per un lungo periodo, ma la consapevolezza di non avere alcuna persona a cui importi di te.
Personalmente non mi sento mai sola perché ho la fortuna di avere una famiglia e degli amici che mi vogliono bene e cui io voglio bene.
Stare fisicamente da sola è invece una necessità che sento spesso, mi da modo di ricaricare le energie e lasciar scivolare via emozioni negative.

Being alone for me means feeling abandoned and without anyone to count on. True loneliness is, therefore, not being physically alone, even for a long period, but the awareness of not having anyone caring for you.
Personally, I never feel alone because I’m lucky to have a family and friends who love me and whom I love.
Being physically alone is, actually, something that that I often need, it gives me the opportunity to recharge my energies and let negative emotions slip away.

Aga

I met Aga in 2017, when I started to collaborate with Mother Tongues. She is very sweet and it’s always a pleasure chatting with her. She didn’t live the easy life, however she is always ready to give a smile and to look the bright side of things.
She is in lockdown with her little one, so it really made sense to have her on board too, for these photos.
If you speak Polish, you can have a look to her blog: bilingualmind.com.

isoaltion project

I think I’m just an almost 30 years old woman who wants to stay happy in this crazy world no matter where I would live. I’m from Poland and I came to Ireland in 2015. Now it feels like it was ages ago as my life has changed completely since that time – Ive became a mum of a wonderful little girl (now 4 yo and bilingual), started working as a Polish teacher and recently also started studies that I have dreamed about for many years. I’m interested in languages & cultures.

I speak Polish and English. Polish is my mother tongue and I use it with my daughter at home, with my parents and family, also at work in Polish school and with my Polish friends. I speak English because I live and study in Ireland, so I use it everywhere outside of home, at the university, with my international friends, but also sometimes with my daughter Alice, especially when English speaking friends are with us. I would like to learn Spanish one day.

isoaltion project

Bycie samej oznacza dla mnie ciszę i czas, który mogę spędzić wedle własnego uznania – na przemyśleniach, piciu kawy, pracy w skupieniu lub odpoczynku. Kiedyś obawiałam się bycia samej, a obecnie bardzo doceniam czas, kiedy mogę trochę pobyć sama ze sobą. Jest jedna polska piosenka, którą bardzo lubię, bo świetnie oddaje ten nastrój bycia samej – jej tytuł to “Cisza, ja i czas”.

To me being alone means silence and time that I can spend in whatever way I choose: on thinking, drinking coffee, working or relaxing. There was a time when I was afraid of being alone, but the older I get the more I appreciate it. There is a Polish song (“Cisza, ja i czas”/”Silence, me and time”) that I like a lot as to me it perfectly reflects the mood of these moments when being alone.

Maria Marlene

I met Maria Marlene a few months ago, after having heard a lot about her from my partner, as they used to be co-workers. 
Victor always told me that we were so much alike, that I was intrigued and I really wanted to meet her in person. So far we just had a couple of occasions to properly talk. What I can say is that she has the sweetest smile, which shines even in the darkest of times.

maria marlene

I was born and raised in Portugal and I’ve been living in Dublin since late 2018. There, in Portugal, everybody called me by my second name, Marlene, just because my first name is the name of almost every Portuguese girl. But when I got to Dublin, everybody started calling me by my first name, so I got also used to being called Maria.

I used to read a lot when I was a child and I did so until my early adulthood. Now I don’t do it as much as I would like to, because time is so scarce, but I still love being surrounded by books. Bookshops are one of my happy places. I also love antiquities and antiquities shops. I like to create imaginary narratives for each object: where did it come from? How was the house where it used to be? How was its former owner? Why did they choose it and dispose of it later on?
The thing I love most about Dublin it’s the Georgian architecture. I just don’t get enough of strolling around and admire the beauty of the red brick facade and candy-color doors.

maria marlene

I always studied in Portuguese public schools, where I also learned French and English for 8 years (I have background in Human Sciences). 

When I finished University, I lived some time in Paris. I loved the city, but I returned to Portugal for love. Before moving to Dublin, I worked for 7 years in a Portuguese textile company that exports almost all its production. I was daily in contact with customers from around the world, so I started learning Spanish on the job. Spanish is quite similar to Portuguese, and today I am also able to read, write and speak in Spanish. Actually, it was a Portuguese & Spanish speaking role that brought me to Dublin. French is on hold for the moment.

Eu cresci no campo e a casa mais próxima distava cerca de dois quilômetros da minha casa.
Não frequentei o jardim de infância porque os meus pais trabalhavam em casa. Então, até entrar na escola primária, aos seis anos, eu raramente tinha a oportunidade de estar em contacto e brincar com outras crianças além da minha irmã. Ao chegar à idade adulta, percebi o quanto esta “distância social” moldou a minha personalidade. Eu gosto muito de estar sozinha. Diria mesmo que preciso de estar sozinha. Creio que só sou eu mesma quando estou sozinha.


I grew up in the countryside and the nearest house was about two kilometers from my home.
I didn’t go to kindergarten because my parents worked from home. So, until I entered primary school, at the age of six, I rarely had the opportunity to be in contact and play with children other than my sister. As an adult, I now realize how much this “social distancing” shaped my personality. I really enjoy being alone and sometimes I feel that I am truly myself only when I am alone.

maria marlene

Roberto

Roberto and I met in 2014, a few months before I left Rome. We were both attending a graphic design course (one of those steps that changed my life) and I have to say I really thought he was a bit crazy.
He is one of the funniest people I know, there’s only another person that makes me laugh as much as him! But because of that, during the course, I always thought he was kind of a borderline, he was always making fun of anything, never taking anything seriously and talking, talking, talking!
When the course ended, we kept in contact and it’s then when I realised I really hadn’t got him at all. And we became very good friends.
First of all, he is a writer – thing that he never bothered to mention in class. He’s a very sensitive and deep man, a pleasure to talk with (even when he doesn’t make jokes!). He writes beautiful novels and short stories. My favourite is Verso qualcuno. If you can read Italian, I really recommend it. He also has a blog called nelfrattempo.net, food for thoughts.
Last year he became a father and that changed him. I think he’s still looking for his new Dimension, but I’m sure he will reach it and hopefully, he will start to write novels again.

isolation portraits

I come from Italy, near Rome. I write. For passion, to live lifes different from mine. One life is not enough.

I speak Italian because it’s my mother tongue. And then English, for work, and a little bit of Portuguese, because I love Portuguese culture and literature, and I studied It up ti level B1.

Saper stare da solo, saper abitare la propria solitudine, arredarla, renderla spazio fertile della propria identità, è l’unico vero cardine imprescindibile della felicità.
C’è tanto altro, poi, ma senza il saper stare soli non si regge in piedi.

To know how to be alone, to know how to live one’s solitude, furnish it, make it a fertile space of one’s identity, is the only true essential cornerstone of happiness.
There is much more, then, but without knowing how to be alone, it will never work.

Janhvi

Janhvi was one of the two interns that I had the pleasure to coordinate between the end of 2019 and March 2020 for the Mother Tongues projects.
She’s a bright young woman, keen on reaching her goals in life and I’m sure she will.
If I had to describe her with one word, I’d say kindhearted.
N.B.: in the photos below where she seems to be praying… that is actually her reaction when I asked her what she was going to do, first thing, when the lockdown was over. She said she wanted to go eating Mexican in her fav restaurant in Dublin. That is the precise moment when she was dreaming of it and mouth-watering!

isolation portraits

I’m Janhvi. I am originally from India but currently living in Dublin. I absolutely love cooking and nothing makes me more happy than enjoying a great meal with my loved ones.

My mother tongue is Hindi. English is my second language because all my education has been in English. I also speak a little bit of Marathi cause it’s the State language of the part of India i lived in. I took up some courses in French 3 years ago but haven’t practiced much since then.

मुझे अकेले रहना घर वापस आने जैसा लगता है। जैसे जब हम बहुत लंबी छुट्टी से घर लौटते है, उस समय जैसा महसूस होता है; की पूरी दुनिया देख ली लेकिन अपने घर जैसी जगह कहीं नहीं। वैसे लोगों से मिलकर अच्छा लगा लेकिन अकेले रहने में अपना ही एक मज़ा है।

Being alone to me is like coming home. Like when you return home after a long long vacation, you feel as if even though you’ve seen the whole world but nothing can replace your own home. Similarly to me, it feels good to meet people and be around people, but there is a difference sort of comfort in being alone.

isolation portraits

Joan

I met Joan in 2015, when I was teaching Italian in a community centre in South Dublin County. She was one of my lovely students, one of the two I am still in contact with. She is exactly my mum’s age but I think of her as a very good friend. She, like me, loves French culture and cinema, so we sometimes go to the Irish Film Institut together, to watch a good French film (but not only French!). She lived in Canada for some 30 years, so she gets some of the feelings I have, being a foreigner in the country. But she is much wiser than me, so I love to talk with her.
After the epiphany, when I was at the phone with Francesca and Edel, Joan was the first one I photographed for the project, but without telling her about it in advance. I just called her to wish her a very happy birthday and asked if she wanted to have her “isolation portrait” taken. And well, hers it really was isolation, as she was strictly quarantining after being back from Canada a few days earlier.

joan

I am Joan, living in Dublin. I love life, people, movies, literature, music and good wine.

I don’t mind being alone and enjoy the peace and quiet. I often walk alone, go to cinema alone, hang out with my horse alone…..it is time to think and refocus.

I speak French, a little Italian and English of course. I can read in both of those languages and hope to improve my Italian during this period of “cocooning”.

The second part of the Isolation Portraits Project ends here. Share the article if you liked it!