communities of Viale Gramsci, told in the photographs of Marcello Coslovi

A project that arises out of urgency, out of the need to explore the situation, the reality in Modena, linked to the reputation of violence and prostitution. Suspended, isolated, branded place. The place they would name in the United States Wrong side of tracks, literally “the wrong side of the railroad”, to indicate a poor area of ​​the city, often inhabited by “invisibles”, members of communities of predominantly foreign origin. In 2020 Marcello Koslovi – a young photographer from Modena – decided to cross the railway and climb over that invisible wall that surrounds Viale Gramsci and separates its inhabitants from the rest of the city. An area comparable to an eternal waiting room, about which he wanted to learn about the history, geography and daily life of its inhabitants. Through his photographs, taken and edited in collaboration with locals, Marcello directs our gaze to a forgotten reality in Modena to stimulate reflection and raise questions.

This is “Wrong Side of the Tracks”project in progress, conceived by Marcello Coslovi while studying at Studio Labò, winner in the category “Best Portfolio Absolut“at Fotografia Europea 2021, finalist for several international awards and currently on display at Fotografia Europea 2022 at the Convents of San Domenico in Reggio Emilia.

“I started with this expression, Wrong side of the tracks, to evoke reflections on my city, Modena, where the railway, as a kind of border, marks two parts of the city. Then I focused on Viale Gramsci, where a lot of people live. from a conceptual point of view, I addressed the community with a speech about social justice; having a law degree, I have always been interested in issues of this kind, I have traveled extensively, even in the southern United States, tracing the key steps in the life of Martin Luther King, while from a photographic point of view, I am most guided by Dana Lixenberg’s Imperial Courts, Dutch photographer who spent 20 years working on an African American neighborhood in the United States. touch, empathize with the community, understand how they feel from them, and do work that is the result of cooperation and closeness.

Through a fortunate encounter with a local resident, a lawyer by profession and well integrated into the Ghanaian community, Marcello enters an area that he discovers is governed by a precise and impenetrable geographic location. He meets the boys, men and women who live in the area and encounters the experiences and feelings that they tell him, difficulties, stereotypes, the struggle to get out of a constant state of discomfort and social isolation. Visit the African Market, one of the churches in the neighborhood, a basketball court, and a small apartment that has many more tenants than it should. He is there every day, sometimes in the morning, afternoon or evening. For two years, he establishes and strengthens friendships: sometimes he goes with the intention of taking pictures, listening to the ideas and suggestions of the boys themselves, and sometimes he just goes to chat and be together.

He does not want to document the lives of these young people, the community. Through his photographs, Marcello wants to convey certain images, to evoke metaphors to represent the state of these people, a state that begins with a certain community, but transcends any boundaries, because it is universal.

“This is a non-canonical portrait. The idea is to create a different imagery on the theme, and this requires a lot of effort on the part of the viewer: he does not have to discuss who this person is, how he is dressed, etc. .. but pay attention to the symbolism behind it. In this photo, for example, you can capture the tension of a boy trying to take off his fogged glasses. There is an urge to overcome a difficult condition, the inability to see something ahead and, on a metaphorical level, to see the future. However, there is an attempt on his part to overcome this state “


“Also in this photo, there is a representation of someone trying to get out of the state represented by the clothesline trying to unfasten itself. He is in a very uncomfortable position, there is tension, he is trying to get out of the state in which he is. found”


“This is an external detail that creates a context. In the photo it will be a boulder in a puddle in the park April 22nd. Metaphorically, it represents an island where these communities are divided.”

Isolation, insecurity and suspension. These words are the result of reflections of a photographer from Modenese, received over two years of communication, friendship and comparison with some residents of Viale Gramsci.

“Insecurity, because it seems that they live in constant and daily insecurity, always waiting to receive documents. And in this expectation they are suspended, they have no place to do something in Modena, to integrate. Isolation due to impermeability between the groups inhabiting the area. Many of them struggle to simply exchange verbal communication with the locals. Africans are often perceived as a stereotype and this increases the distance between these people and others. black, – the neighbor boy told me, – is immediately associated with the drug trade. You don’t see the man, you don’t see what he is. There is this invisible wall that separates different communities. Suspension, finally, because, being a few steps from the station, it resembles a waiting room, as if these guys were waiting for departure on a new journey to the cherished England. Modena, as it were, passes for a period that may turn out to be very long, waiting for a chance.


“This photo shows a toy knife, and metaphorically it means that they want to fight, but their means are not suitable. There is also a discourse related to the drug dealer and violence… which is fake violence.”

Marcello, what is the purpose of your photography?

“According to James Baldwin, the artist cannot take anything for granted, he must get to the bottom of the answers in order to explain the questions that lie behind these answers. Agreed, I’m going to explore something that’s not so obvious. , explore to raise questions. Compare yourself to others and also to yourself, as we all grew up with certain prejudices. This is an important question. As a reference, I am also inspired by Yasujiro Ozu, a twentieth-century Japanese filmmaker who favored I whisper rather than scream, preferring the hidden to the overt. My photographs do not pretend to be descriptions, but memories, hints of what touches you tenderly, and not screams. Think. For me photography is a bridge to be a part of. or connect with groups or communities of which I am not a part, a means of overcoming the invisible wall that separates us.”


(Pictured by Marcello Coslovi, photographer from Modenese)

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