At the time I am writing this, over 800,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed, and more than 40,000 deaths have been reported globally. The United States is now reporting the most cases, with over 180,000, topping Italy’s more than 100,000. On Saturday, Italy surpassed China in total coronavirus infections. Sadly, Italy is also the country reporting the most deaths from the virus, with over 12,000 as this post is written.
Understandably, this pandemic has created widespread fear and anxiety around the globe. None of us is exempt because we are all at risk to some degree. Italian photojournalist Filippo Venturi is no exception. He and his family have been staying in place at home in northern Italy. The country has been on lockdown for the past three weeks, with restrictions on people’s movements outside their homes and all restaurants and retail stores closed. Venturi has been keeping a visual diary during this time with his ongoing project, “In time of peril: A diary from the red zone.”
Venturi told In Sight that he had actually planned last fall to be working on a project in China. Of course that’s not possible now, but he counts himself lucky to be able to be with his family. While planning his trip to China, Venturi had purchased hand sanitizer, medications and even medical masks. He also stocked up on food in February when he sensed that the virus situation could get worse.
Many of us are now dealing with the challenges of isolation. Venturi is no different. “Home is a shelter and a prison, but the first prevails, for the moment,” he says. On top of isolation, fears of the effects of the virus have lodged themselves in the backs of our minds, too. This has made us more acutely aware of the health of our friends, family and co-workers.
I know that I, personally, am hyper-aware of signals my body may be giving me. And I know this feeling is amplified even more for parents of small children. Of course, this hasn’t escaped Venturi either. He told In Sight, “The other night, my son Ulisse had a persistent cough, and I found out what it really feels like to get hit where it hurts. I could taste the meaning of ‘I would give my life for my son.’ It took me a night, listening to every breath he took, to assure myself that he was not coughing anymore, that he was fine and sleeping quietly.”
In the coming days, weeks, months and who knows how long after, we are going to be inundated with photos of people on ventilators, in hospital beds, on stretchers, wearing masks and gloves, and sitting by windows. Venturi’s photos remind us that it is not just about how other people are being affected. It’s also about each and every one of us and our personal reactions.
Rather than being a direct representation of living through the pandemic, Venturi’s photos are more evocative of an internal experience. The surreal color palette and the often blurred images echo the feelings of isolation, uneasiness and fear that the seriousness of the virus has bestowed on so many people, not just in Italy, but all over the world. They are a psychological portrait of these uncertain times.
You can see more of Venturi’s work on his website, here.
In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff members and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.
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