While in Palermo, I experienced something that I still don’t fully understand. It’s one of those experiences that I replay in my mind when I find myself alone and thinking about past travels. Hopefully this set of photos and a little description of what can’t be seen will help paint a more complete idea of what I saw and felt.
While walking through the heart of the city (Palermo is up there on my list of favorite cities I’ve visited), I came upon the Piazza della Pretoria which was spectacular. While circling the fountain, I began to hear what seemed like vases being shattered. Every 30 seconds, more and more of these sounds echoed in the plaza. In one corner of the plaza, I saw debris on the ground. I looked on top of the building and there was a man in crutches. He was systematically picking up shingles off the roof of a government building and throwing them on the ground.
A crowd began to gather. I was one of the only tourists in the area. It was a strange feeling since I had no idea what was happening. Why was this man doing this? Was he laid off from his work in the government? Why were the police just standing idly? Does this usually happen in Palermo? Am I having some weird dream?
I stayed there for four hours. I went through two rolls of film, one color and one black and white. We all just stared. It was mesmerizing.
From the archives - “Crossing into Sicily” Villa San Giovanni, Italy May 2011
Getting to Sicily was an incredible adventure. I took a 12 hour train ride from Rome and sat next to two Italian women who didn’t speak any english. When I said I was American, they insisted on talking to me about Prince William and Kate Middleton not caring that I was actually an American and I didn’t speak Italian. They made all these incredibly emotive hand gestures which allowed me to somewhat understand what they were saying. After about 10 hours, the train came to a stop, one of the train conductors got out and ran up and down the side of train. We had reached the end of mainland Italy and the train was going to get on a boat. I thought it would make more sense if only the passengers would get on the boat and just meet a different train in Sicily, but this was how they did it and it turned out to be more exciting. If you could imagine, a lot of the process felt like a Wes Anderson movie. All these intricate actions needed to be performed and specific people in elaborate uniforms needed to do specific tasks. Since the train was long, it was divided into two trains of six so they could fit on the boat. The conductor got on our car and spoke to some people for five minutes. Of course they all smoked, I think one man was having an espresso. I took this photo just as the cars were about to board the boat. I love how his face is silhouetted except for the wrinkles on his forehead which always reminded me of a map.
From the archives - “Model at Trocadéro” Paris, December 2010
In May I started revisiting the photos I have taken over the last four years and started posting them under the “From the archives” title. I came across many that for whatever reason I did not like at the time I took them, but seeing them again I began to form a connection. I think for the most part the reason I was not happy with a photo is that, while a good photograph, I thought I had missed something that could have made it better. In the particular photo above, I think I was disappointed in the two people in the background whom I must have thought distracted from the model and her crew who are the focus of photograph. A year and a half later I am able to appreciate this photo. I hope you can too.