Photographs by Carmen Colombo
From “Smog,” The Watcher and Other Stories, by Italo Calvino (trans. William Weaver):
Purification was the organ of an Institute, where I was to report, to learn my duties. A new job, an unfamiliar city—had I been younger or had I expected more of life, these would have pleased and stimulated me; but not now, now I could see only the grayness, the poverty that surrounded me, and I could only plunge into it as if I actually liked it, because it confirmed my belief that life could be nothing else. I purposely chose to walk in the most narrow, anonymous, unimportant streets, though I could easily have gone along those with fashionable shop windows and smart cafés; but I didn’t want to miss the careworn expression on the faces of the passersby, the shabby look of the cheap restaurants, the stagnant little stores, and even certain sounds which belong to narrow streets: the streetcars, the braking of pickup trucks, the sizzling of welders in the little workshops in the courtyards: all because that wear, that exterior clashing kept me from attaching too much importance to the wear, the clash that I carried within myself.
But to reach the Institute, I was obliged at one point to enter an entirely different neighborhood, elegant, shaded, old-fashioned, its side streets almost free of vehicles, and its main avenues so spacious that traffic could flow past without noise or jams. It was autumn; some of the trees were golden. The sidewalk did not flank walls, buildings, but fences with hedges beyond them, flower beds, gravel walks, constructions that lay somewhere between the palazzo and the villa, ornate in their architecture. Now I felt lost in a different way, because I could no longer find, as I had done before, things in which I recognized myself, in which I could read the future. (Not that I believe in signs, but when you’re nervous, in a new place, everything you see is a sign.)
Carmen Colombo was born in 1991. After earning a degree in Photography and Visual Arts at the Istituto Europeo di Design, in 2013 she attended a documentary course at Luz Academy in Milan. She is currently living and working in Milan as a freelance photographer; she is also developing her personal portfolio. She exhibited some of her works at the Photofestival Milano (2012) and at the Jitterbug Gallery in Paris (2016). Her project “Al di qua delle montagne” has been recently selected for the Emerging Talent Awards 2016, and it was exhibited at the Macro Museum in Rome in December 2016. Next March she will publish a book from her work “Al di qua delle montagne” together with Balter Books, a publisher from Turin. Visit her website here.