Milan by night reveals a center for international homeless

by Elisabetta Pina - 2017.03.31
Milan by night reveals a center for international homeless
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From the German homeless who emigrated to Italy to those who proudly live on the street. A not so well known universe, unto itself, is what emerges from the incredibile series on Milan’s clochard, shot by Luca Rotondo, class of 1989. The rising star of Italian photography who stole the media spotlight after winning the Amilcare Ponchielli award, with his project Metropolitan Lullabies. A long series of images, that captures the relationship that the homeless have with the city of Milan, shot at night while on bicycle.

Question: Luca how did the idea come to you to depict the nocturnal life of the homeless?

Answer: Some thought of me as an opportunist. But, I don’t take advantage of the pain of others. Quite the contrary. I only want to present the interaction of these invisible players with the center of the city, that during the night loses the vitality that it exudes during the day.

Q: How long did the Metropolitan Lullabies project take you?

A: Actually, it isn’t finished yet. During the spring and summer of 2015, I shot the first series of photographs and a second series last winter. After I won the award, I started thinking that the project was complete. Then, I noticed other locations in the center where the clochard “withdraw” at nightfall, and so, I started shooting again.

Q: How do you go about choosing the time to shoot?

A: I do a “first run” by bike to discover areas that interest me and to figure out where the homeless go to sleep. Then, I go back with my camera at around midnight and stay until around 4 or 5 a.m.

Q: Are you thinking about doing this same type of project in other countries?

A: I’m thinking about it because there exists a type of migratory phenomenon among the homeless. In other words, they tend to move from one country to another, for reasons that are not exactly clear. For example, through the various associations, I discovered that there are homeless from Germany who come to Italy, and Germany is known for its excellent support network. Many of these people resort to begging only to get enough money together to move on. But, actually, once in the new city, they pick up where they left off, living the same life as before. They sleep on the streets and are not interested in looking for work.

Q: In Milan, 70% of the clochard are foreign, why do you think that is so?

A: The nationality doesn’t really count for the most part. Serious problems with integration could exist for cultural reasons, but also because of personal setbacks: maybe losing a job or a divorce, or the death of someone important. They find themselves on the street, but they don’t ask anything from anybody. It seems like a question of dignity. In my opinion, I think that choosing to sleep out in the open in a makeshift shelter instead of in a dormitory, means that feel safer counting on themselves, rather than having to make any compromises.

Published in Homelessness.
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