The Outside

(This is an ongoing project)

“Wait, I’m gonna get my costume”, a friend texted me while I waited for her in my car parked outside her apartment. After a few minutes she came out seemingly normal, maybe a little raggedy, a thin blue mask covered her smile.

We walked together towards a big tree on the sidewalk and while we did, I perceived the necessity, no, the responsibility to remind her that the space between us had widened. At the same time, I felt a bit embarrassed to notice in me the excitement of seeing someone - aside from my family - for the first time in a few weeks, and yet it was only April 2020.

The idea of having to dress like soldiers (and tourists) to enter the outside captivated me completely. A costume we had chosen for an unknown planet - our outside uniform - or a new character to play to help us confront that which waited for us. 

Even if it didn’t make others question our identity, we felt foreign and alienated from our image.

In the edition from last spring of Vogue Italia (Far Away So Close), the editor Chiara Bardelli-Nonino reflects upon the purpose of magazines in uncertain times like ours. For that she took inspiration from the book  “Dressed for War” by Julie Summers which chronicled the life of Audrey Whiters eic of Vogue during WWII:

Magazines are about the immediate, the here and now. For Audrey Withers that meant being able to talk as much about beauty as war and devastation, with the same credibility. As Beaton wrote, describing a London that resisted constant bombardment with yet another English invention, the Blitz Spirit: “To spite Hitler and in spite of him, the garden catalogues arrive, and we order not only the beans and the potatoes and the spinach and the cabbages and beehives that thrive so well in London gardens, but the fibre and the bulbs of hyacinths that will enliven the darkest day at home.” Of course, those hyacinths were not essential for survival. Then again, maybe they were.

I started this series of portraits photographing friends, then friends of friends, and now is open to whoever wants to participate. I encourage every participant to think about their costume, while reminding them their uniform only serves their own given practicality, which in return can be as physical or emotional as they need it to be.