Every minute I mechanically swipe up. What’s changed in the world since just before? Survival mode, the last thing that keeps me from going completely insane.
I can’t remember how many days have passed. I can’t count them anymore. Nothing smells, everything’s contaminated. I cannot think. I just keep reading La Repubblica and the daily death toll.
Italy has become the European epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. So far 204 000 cases have been tested positive and more than 27 682 people have lost their lives, overtaking China’s numbers. Since the italian President of the Council imposed the total lockdown on march 9th, I have travelled through the northern part of the country documenting the red zone, the eye of the pandemic, for a month.
Like everyone else, I’m locked. I spend my days outside. I take few photographs. But I’m traped. I see these empty streets, these ghosts in white masks who pass quickly sometimes on the sidewalk, and a few lonely people in line. They are waiting, far from each other, with bags neatly folded in gloved hands.
On the social networks, I read boredom. One talks, one writes. But nothing. They are dying. They are all dying. In the I.C.U., the beds are folded in rows. Entangled wires and screens, vegetables hanging from pipes. Only a man with his head up is waving at me from an aquarium. The phone is brought to him and through the window he is told that his wife is on the line. A few words are repeated to him. In Italian, I don’t understand them. ‘Is he going to get better’? «No, no,» I am told. Here one can feel the tension of the constant struggle between life and death. People are terrified. Doctors break down. Coffins are piling up. Cemeteries and crematoriums are saturated. Churches had to open their doors to store them in rows. Here, people are vanishing. Families have been ripped off from their loved ones; their belongings put in red bags that will later be burned. Erased. Off the face of the earth.
‘The Outbreak’ is a raw testimony of immediate European History that nobody really could see. Taken in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe from March 15th 2020 until I got infected by COVID on April 1st 2020.