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163. Italy is a Choir of Beauty, Creativity, Solidarity... because We are Helplessly Hoping

By Giulio D'Ercole


Photography makes visible the invisible

It is often said that Photography makes visible the invisible. well, I believe this is an ability that often materializes even in moments of great difficulty, despair, illness, meaning in all those situations where the best of the human character emerges from the depths of the soul like those pure feelings of childhood that seemed to have been buried by the compromises, disappointments, forced obligations of our adult life.

Capturing the concreteness of compassion in a hospital In 2005 I worked for UNESCO as a media and communication expert. At that time I was part of a task force that had the extremely difficult task of bringing information, awareness, prevention and medical treatment for HIV, a difficult, taboo topic, especially in a society that refused the possibility of spreading the virus inside of an Islamic country. Through the efforts of various United Nations agencies (UNICEF, WHO, WFP, UNESCO) and various government donors from different countries, it was possible to start a collaboration with the Somali government, up to the opening of a department for AIDS patients in the city hospital. I took this photo in Hargeisa, Somaliland, on the occasion of the inauguration of that department. The embrace of a woman who supports another sick woman is the visible sign of that invisibility that photography can grasp, just as it is the visible sign of that solidarity I mentioned earlier.


The photo was then used in several UNICEF and UNESCO communication campaigns, reports and magazines.



Viruses don't know borders

What does my memory of what happened fifteen years ago have anything to do with Italy being a choir of Beauty, Creativity and Solidarity?

Well, like the Somalis back then, a couple of months ago also us Italians thought to be immune to a virus that was causing mayhem in the apparently very far away China. So, we assumed and we were even told we shouldn't worry too much.

The same happened, and is still happening in many countries in the world, regardless the fact that the OMS has openly and officially declared the Coronavirus pandemic.

This irresponsible behavior, this delay in taking action, in doing everything it takes to stop the pandemic safeguard people's lives as much as possible, brought us today to have over 1.1 million people infected and over 60 thousands death worldwide.


#Istayhome #Iorestoacasa

As a frantic accelerated medical and scientific research goes on in all nations to produce effective drugs and finally a vaccine that will make us immune to this dangerous and very aggressive virus, the only way to keep ourselves safe is certainly what has been called "social distancing". Many nations have now, finally adopted this measure, hoping that it will stop the spreading of the infection. So, like never before, not even in war times, we find ourselves closed in our houses 24/7, with the possibility to go out only to take care of some essential needs: food shopping, medical reasons, to go to work deemed essential to the community.


Helplessly Hoping we are virtually escaping the lockdown

Though, if there is something that characterizes all living beings, it is their survival instinct and this responds to the ability to adapt. Human beings are social animals, they can hardly stay locked up, cut off from common life, from the possibility of communicating, sharing, provoking and feeling emotions. This is all the more true for those peoples who, like Italians, live in places that have always been a crossroads of cultures, people, art, culture .... in short, life that vibrates, that shivers, that loves . So, thanks to the Internet technology we have available and first and foremost to that survival instinct and desire to communicate inscribed in our DNA, today many have found new ways to virtually escape this painful lockdown that must be physically respected.

Webinars, distant learning courses, digital arenas and other "social new gatherings" are swarming like never before, like mushrooms in the damp undergrowth of an alpine forest.

Amongst those there are the amazing, beautiful long distant choirs born from the creativity of the youth, from the thirst for life of a young generation. That same generation to which adults have left a sick, polluted, fragile world. Now they are the ones trying to get it going again. This is the first of a series of choirs that I would like to share with you from my website, because I believe it is only by continuing to be helplessly hoping, virtually close and sharing beauty that we will be able to overcome this period of seclusion and crisis.


Il coro che non c'è (formed by students from different High Schools and Universities of Rome) sings Helplessly Hoping by Crosby, Stills & Nash, in the a cappella version by Home Free. Choir's director: Dodo Versino Director and editor: Leonardo Ciamberlini


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All photographs by Giulio D'Ercole.

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