Milan in time of Coronavirus

Awekening – May / June 2020

In 1969 the English neurologist and writer Oliver Wolf Sacks experimented the dose of a chemical substance called L-Dopa to a group of patients who survived the 1915–1926 epidemic of Encephalitis Lethargica in condition of permanent catatonia. The administration of L-Dopa produced an incredible awakening effect to the patients, waking them up after 50 years of a sort of sleeping state in completely different era.

This story represents, in a symbolic way, what is happening today. After the lockdown due to the Coronavirus the society awakened in a different era with the mandatory condition of learning to live in a new world.

Two workers hanging up a billboard in Via Broletto. The stylist Giorgio Armani paid for it to pay homage to the city entering in the so called Fase 2.

Milan was the global epicentre of the pandemic for about two months.

As the lockdown was released people awakened to a different world where avoidances and precautions became basic rules.

People had to adapt to a new normal in which activities usually carried out indoor are reorganised open air for obvious reasons of distancing, as a sort of response to the #stayhome phase.

A celebration of an outdoor Mass in the courtyard of Santa Maria di Lourdes Church in the district Zona 8.
The Friday noon prayer of the Muslim community. The municipality made this football pitch available to allow the celebration in condition of safety distance.
Red circles to delimit and guarantee the security distance on the lawn of the public garden called Parco della Biblioteca degli Alberi, in the district of Porta Nuova.

At the same time, many people have suffered such a heavy economic damage to make it very difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to be back to their jobs. The legal provisions of the so-called “Decreto Rilancio” would be inadequate to face the emergency, leading to different kind of street demonstrations.

Basically, these protests represent the opposite side of the adaptations.

Protesters with the flags of NURSIND, the union of nursing professions, at Piazza Duca D'Aosta, just ouside one of the buildings beloning to the Lombardy Region.
A demonstration of riders outside Palazzo Marino, headquarter of Mayor Sala, to ask the Government to be included in the so-called Sanatoria.
A couple looking at a series of protest signs outside Palazzo Marino, headquarter of Mayor Sala. The demonstration was about the government plans for the school system.

Zona Rossa, Zona Arancione, Zona Gialla – November 2020 / January 2021

After the release of the first lockdown obviously the virus slowly started to spread again, even though the hot summer restrained a bit the infections.

As the winter was approaching, Covid was running fast again and a second lockdown was set to begin in November 2020, with a different approach than the previous one.

The government decided to divide the Country in three kind of zones, depending on the Rt rate: Red, Orange and Yellow. Milan was in the red zone, which basically meant that everything was closed, except for delivery. I chose to photograph the so-called Quadrilatero della Moda, which is the fashion shopping district.

∧ Up: Cover Stories for Mi-Tomorrow newspaper, November 2020.

∨ Down: a story about ANPAS ambulances for MilanoVibra magazine, December 2020. Text by Marta Mereghetti.

Life goes on – January / February 2021

I lost my aunt in December. She was infected. She was 78, but perfectly healthy.

In the meantime I have barely photographed around the city but I was struck by this digital sign every time I was passing by. The day I decided to take a picture, this woman walked through with her little child whose red blanket matched with the sign on the back, as her mask did. The traffic light was green for them. Life goes on.

I also went back to the church near my home.

11 February 2021. Memorial Day of the first apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes at Santa Maria di Lourdes Church, in the district Zona 8.

This series is part of a journal about Milan in time of Coronavirus. Another series can be seen here: Portabandiera (Standard-bearer).