The wrong side of the tracks

The wrong side of the tracks is an attempt to approach a place, Viale Gramsci, in the neighborhood of Modena beyond the railroad tracks. This ethnically varied area where sharing spaces between different communities is demanding, hosts a microcosm of people mostly excluded from the city dynamics and negatively represented by the media. Among them, is the second largest Ghanaian community in Italy. In this perimeter of real, though not explicit, segregation, the tension fed by prejudice and by the animosity between groups is constant. This community lives isolated, in the indifference of the inhabitants of the "right side”. A few steps away from the station, suspended as if in a waiting room, it lives in a daily precariousness.

The research is the result of a close collaboration with the subjects photographed. Since this collaboration involves a community of which I am not part of, I find very important to establish an active relationship with the community itself, so that I am able to incorporate these people’s point of you into my work. The bond of familiarity that has developed over time has allowed me to proceed in a more conscious manner, willing to question my beliefs so as not to remain tied to a pre-settled narrative. Also the language chosen, a one that is between documentary photography and stage photography, allows me to create polysemous images, far from a univocal reading.

My connection to Gramsci Avenue dates back to childhood, when my father, an educator at a local kindergarten, used to report episodes that negatively connoted the area. Referring back to the words of James Baldwin «the artist [...] must not take anything for granted», I decided to check with my eyes and went back on Gramsci Avenue, I climbed over that invisible wall that separates the city from its own periphery, so near and so far. I photographed, first, to give visibility and voice to these people who are often ignored by contemporary society. Second, to stimulate reflections and shake off general indifference, shedding light on a “troublesome" reality, mostly denied. I myself photographed to reflect because, as James Baldwin still stated, one does not write after reflecting on things but to reflect on them.

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