Isolation Portraits Project - Part 8
Last Thursday 14th of May I had the last two sessions of my Isolation Portraits Project.
The total lockdown in Ireland is over since Monday 18th, so it made sense to finish my project just before it.
I feel a bit melancholic because the project is over. I had so much fun doing this, that I even thought to take on photography more seriously in the future (my low self-esteem will stop me though).
It’s a bit sad because I’ve been in contact with so many friends and got to video call them and even tour their houses for half an hour… it has been incredible and it’s over.
Lots of them have already got back to work, some never stopped thank to smart working. A few of them are stuck in the same situation as mine… just waiting to see how Covid-19 will shape our lives in the upcoming months; waiting to see if eventually, we will still have the same job; waiting to see if we will be strong enough to survive this one too, with not too much damage 🙂
Everything ends, so does this series of portraits sui generis. I hope you enjoyed it!
At the bottom of the page, I’ll leave you some of the heartwarming comments received during these weeks.
Marco is one of the few people I’ve ever shared office space with. We used to work together in a photography studio in Rome. I really enjoyed that time, as I was the only girl in the studio with the other four being men and that was so much fun. A few months after I left Rome, Marco did too, moving to beautiful Spain to build his own photography brand – and yes, he did it! Check him out marcomira.com
He is the kind of person you could talk hours with. And we actually did. He is the record-man of this photography project of mine. The video call with him lasted more than 3 hours, between prep of the sets and just actual chats! I can’t wait to go visiting him in Spain and have a proper chat with food & wine & sun!
I’m from Rome, but I’ve been living in Spain for over five years now. After finishing my degree in Architecture, I began to practice this profession for a few years.But during my studies I had already begun to familiarize myself with my great passion until today, photography. In fact, today I am a professional photographer and I dedicate myself mainly to wedding services. My current field of expertise is Spain and of course my country, but one of my professional objectives is to be able to work with my camera in other countries and get to know the different cultures. Instead my personal goal is grow as a human being.
I speak Spanish because I moved to Spain 6 years ago. I speak a little English, but I never have a long time to practice it constantly. In my work, in some marriages, I know people, including the bride and groom, with whom I communicate in English. What I lack is constancy. I don’t speak Chinese, but I just wish I could pronounce 2 or 3 words perfectly, so I could see the expression of a Chinese show me that he understood. Would be a satisfaction.
Per rispondere a questa domanda, mi piacerebbe usare qualche frase impattante che si trova in qualsiasi angolo di interent. Ma dato che l’argomento mi ha riguardato da vicino nel passato, risponderó io SOLO, proprio come il tema della domanda. Essere soli significa non dipendere da nessuno. Sembra ovvio no? Ma in realtá, tutto quello hai in questa situazione è proprio TE STESSO, la tua forza, la tua intelligenza, il tuo coraggio, la tua debolezza. Ogni cosa ti appartiene totalmente, proprio perqué non è condivisibile. Puó essere un sentimento apprezzato. Però occhio! Questa indipendenza, crea dipendenza…
To answer this question, I would like to use some striking phrase that you can find anywhere in the interent. But since the topic has closely concerned me in the past, I will answer BY MYSELF, just like the question topic. Being alone means not depend on anyone. It sounds obvious doesn’t it? But actually, all you have in this situation is YOURSELF, your strength, your intelligence, your courage, your weaknesses. Everything belongs to you totally, precisely because it cannot be shared. It can be an appreciated feeling. But watch out! This independence is addictive.
Evelyn is one of my few Irish friends. I met her during my internship in the Origin Gallery, Dublin. She is a visual artist herself and a musician. We didn’t just share the experience of the gallery but we also got to stay in the Cill Rialaig Arts Centre at the same time, down in Kerry.
Cill Rialaig was the most magical experience of my life, probably. It’s a place with a soul. It let you connect deeply with yourself, because it’s so isolated, so in another dimension in time that you can’t help but to look inside yourself, think about the meaning of life and so on. If you are interested in this, have a read to these two old blog posts of mine (2015 and 2016).
Evelyn and I feel about the same in regards to Cill Rialaig – and actually to lots of stuff! We had a very nice chat before taking these photographs that pacified me a bit with this surreal situation we are all in at the moment.
When she answered the phone, she appeared with the sunglasses and that beautiful yellow t-shirt. I was delighted with that, because I had already set up a yellow background for the shooting, as in my mind she is all yellow and warm colours! I also got a tiny concert just for me. I couldn’t be happier!
I’m Evelyn, I’m from county Meath. I’ve lived in Limerick, Cork, Enschede, Liverpool and Stockholm, and I’m back in Meath for lockdown! I’m a visual artist and play traditional music. I’m passionate about sharing skills and learning new ones! I love collaborating with others and believe art has the ability to bring about positive social change!
Being alone is a funny one! I’m lucky I enjoy my own company and can be quite introvert but then I also love people and love talking face to face! I have amazing friends and family so not seeing everyone is tough.
I just speak English, sorry!
Oh Inês, with your melancholy eyes! I understood the reason for them when she told me the heartbreaking story of the books for learners of Portuguese. She said that all the exercises in those books use very depressing sentences like “Pablo is sad because he lost his ball” or “Maria is worried because she thinks it is going to rain”. Isn’t that crazy? That makes you understand a whole lot about a people and its society. And to me, it’s even more incredible if you think that the other famous Portuguese-speakers are the Brazilians, who are globally known for being positive and happy people!
Anyways, I love Inês because she is very centred, very reliable and when I found out that she is a Takeshi Kitano fan, I loved her even more, because her cinema taste clashed with her sweet and calm appearance and god! do I love contrasts! 😀
Since a young age that I have a passion for languages and always knew that I would end up living a huge part of my life not in the same place where I was I born. Originally, I come from Portugal, but spent several years living in Italy, so I also feel a little bit Italian. I have been living in Ireland for the past 2 and a half years. I love long walks (preferably in nature) and classical and modern ballet.
I speak Portuguese because it’s my mother tongue. I speak Italian because I studied, lived and worked in Italy for 10 years. I speak English because I have been studying it for most of my life and now use it on a daily basis, living in Ireland. I studied German and French in the past, but haven’t spoken any of them for several years.
Acho que a solidão tem várias faces: por exemplo, desde cedo que sempre gostei de passear sozinha: é algo que me acalma e me relaxa; solidão para mim é também o que senti de cada vez que mudei de cidade, pois sabia que deixar para trás afectos e memórias. Ultimamente quase nunca estou só, apesar de ao mesmo tempo sentir que estou só, como que suspensa — esta solidão em companhia é outra solidão diferente até agora nunca vivida e quero descobrir o que esta trará.
I think that loneliness has several faces: for example, from an early age I’ve always liked to walk alone: it calms and relaxes me; loneliness for me is also what I felt every time I moved to another city, because I had left behind affections and memories.
Lately, hardly ever I am on my own, although at the same time I feel that I am alone, as if suspended – this loneliness in company is another type of loneliness that so far I’ve never lived and I want to discover what it will bring.
Chiamaka is the second and last little exception for this project. Like Tomasz, Chiamaka and I met through the Mother Tongues Festival 2020, where we had a quick chat, after months of email correspondence to plan her performance. When she saw one of the first posts of the Isolation Portraits she commented that would have loved to take part. And who am I to say no to a sweet soul? 🙂 It was a pleasure to talk to her on the phone.
I had thought that it would have been awkward to do this with someone I didn’t know well, but I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable I was during the conversation. I also had a blast, when she showed me the most amazing spot of the house where she spent the lockedown. You see, not everyone has a giant skeleton in the living room!
My name is Chiamaka, my close friends call me Chichi. I am originally from Lagos, Nigeria. I normally live in Bray, Wicklow with my family, but I have been quarantining with my partner for over two months in South Dublin. I am passionate about literature, music, and film. I am a writer, editor, and performer and I work in marketing, business development, and publishing.
I speak English because I was born and formally educated in Nigeria – a former British Colony – where the official language is English.
I (sometimes) speak Spanish because my partner and I enjoy watching Spanish dramas, and I often listen to contemporary flamenco-infused pop music. I speak French because I’ve studied it since the start of primary school. I speak Irish because I opted to learn it in fifth class when my family moved to Ireland, as I felt it would help me better understand my new culture. I am learning to speak Igbo because it’s my mother tongue. I want to be able to read Igbo literature and express myself through my native language.
For me, being alone means spending quality time with my own thoughts, interests, and emotions. I struggle periodically with anxiety.
Often it’s caused by being overwhelmed with my busy lifestyle, and trying to navigate other people’s expectations of me in our daily interactions; whether at home, college, work, in social settings, on social media etcetera. I can often feel overstimulated by the world – the various opinions, energies, activities – coming at me from all angles. It can weigh me down and cause me to go into sensory overload. So before the pandemic lockdown, I would steal a few minutes by myself, whether on my commute or at lunch or dinner, just to read a book or listen to music or practice a 5 minutes meditation before continuing with my day.
For the last two months, commuting has been eliminated from my daily routine, and so has my college course and my part-time job, So all that’s left is hours upon hours of leisure time and countless opportunities to be alone. Since my partner is confined to his desk area WFH, I can wake up on a Monday morning and immediately reach for my new copy of “Handiwork” by brilliant author and artist Sara Baume. I can whirl away an entire Wednesday afternoon streaming my way through multiple Oscar nominations ‘best picture’ lists.
Or I can sit on the bedroom floor all day browsing Youtube Music and discovering new artists to add to my collection of ‘gigs I want to go to once outside is safe’. Being alone means slowing down and enjoying a few precious moments in my own company.
I adore Dee! She is one of my favourite people to go out for a glass and some tapas because she is so much fun, but at the same time, you can talk about anything with her. And she always listens to people. We met during Spanish classes, back in 2015. Since then, we experimented great restaurants in Dublin (do you remember the time when you could go eating out with friends?!). Last time we saw each other, we had another little buddy eating with us, her gorgeous baby boy that I can’t wait to see again soon.
I’m Dee, originally from Tipperary but now living in Dublin. I love exploring and experience and try to see the world through others eyes. Time is a precious thing these days but currently I’m learning to play the piano and loving it 😊
English because its what I grew up with, bits of Irish because we learn it in school and I think its a, fabulous language and bits of Spanish, I’m not a natural at languages and struggle to stay focused but there is something beautiful about communicating in a language which is not your first language.
I have no issue with solitude, I find peace in quiet places and enjoy space and time to think. Its a balance really though as being with people can almost invigorate me and being alone can centre me.
The story of Andrea is a funny one. When I was much younger (something like 10 years ago) I used to go out every weekend with my friend Romina, in the stunning Rome’s city centre. One night, in Campo de’ fiori, I saw a guy with gorgeous curly blond hair, chatting with his friends. The first thing I said to him was “Can I touch your hair?” Somewhere I still have the photograph of the moment when I was allowed to! I know, it’s silly, but you can’t blame me. Even though I never had a thing for blondies, he was rather outstanding with that hair!
It turned out Andrea and his friends where musicians playing in an orchestra and they were in Rome for a TV appearance.
The rest of it is history, folks!
Andrea was the last one being photographed for this project and it felt like the right one, because he came in and out of my life in different phases of the past years and by coincidence, when I was thinking of contacting him to be photographed, I saw an interview of him online. Was that a sign? 🙂
Andrea really fits this project as well because he travelled a lot in his life and lived in many different countries, so is a good sample of the ever-moving friends that I introduced to you over these 8 blog posts.
I’m Andrea, almost 36 years old. I come from Italy, precisely Bologna, home of the tortellini. I’m leaving in sud of France, in Nice on the marvellous Côte d’Azur. I’m in love with music since I was 7 y. o. I also love theatre, oriental philosophy, and photography.
My mother tongue is Italian, I speak also french because I live here in France. I use also English for my work all around the world. I studied German, I did exams and got a quite good level but I forgot almost everything.
Per me l’isolamento significa opportunità. Una marea di tempo a disposizione, senza impegni di lavoro, da poter dedicare soprattutto alla ricerca di se stessi in ogni ambito. Significa avere il privilegio di poter approfondire qualsivoglia argomento grazie a internet, leggere ogni libro della casa ancora non letto e continuare nel continuo perfezionamento della forma d’arte che mi accompagna per la vita, la musica e il corno.
For me, isolation means opportunity.
Plenty of time available, without work commitments, to be dedicated to the inner search. It means to have the privilege of being able to deepen any topic thanks to the internet, read every book in the house that has not yet been read and keep improving the art form that accompanies me for life, music and the horn.
Thank you for reading all these stories!
If you want to get in touch you can drop me an email at info [at] elenacristofanon.com