December 2019 was the last time I met my family in Milan. January 2020 was the last time I went back to Italy. In February 2020, the first COVID-19 positive cases were found in Italy. The situation escalated so quickly that I didn’t have the time to realize that my whole family and the people I care about, were in danger. I was continuously checking the Italian news, calling my family every day, and having nightmares about their deaths.
I felt I was drowning in my own emotions and fears, but most of all, I felt powerless.
But then, the virus spread in the Middle East and the Jordanian government forced a full curfew. That’s when I started taking a self-portrait each day of my quarantine. At that time, Jordan decided to close all international borders and my family got scared about the idea that I couldn leave the country if something happened to me or to them.
That’s why we decided to have family reunions through zooms calls. Everyone was giving updates about their job and school situation, health conditions, and so on. Our calls always ended up reminding each other to wash our hands, sanitize everything we took from outside of our homes, and wear masks.
We always ended up talking about our emotions and fears.
This is how I got the idea of developing this project.
I selected one of my self-portraits I took during my quarantine, I wrote on a white paper my feelings and fears and I put them on the picture. Then I asked my family to do the same: “Send me a self-portrait, it doesn’t have to be a professional picture, use your phone. Write down your thoughts, take a picture of it, and send them both to me”. After looking at the results, I thought it could be interesting to do an online open call, asking people I didn’t know to do the same. I didn’t know how the people would react, because, despite all, I was asking them to share their private thoughts with a person that they had never met.
After publishing the open call on my Instagram account, I had to turn off my email notifications. My mailbox was literally crashing. The project was published in a few online magazines and after that, also people that did not know me started sharing their faces and thoughts.
More than 300 people sent their stories. At some point, I felt like I knew all these people, and reading such private thoughts, was emotionally touching.
The purpose of this project was to connect people from different parts of the world that were living in a similar situation. It definitely made me feel less alone and I hope it helped others feel the same.
This project was never meant to be just a photographic project.
Sometimes, personal thoughts can be more powerful than a well-executed picture.
I feel this is the case.
This project is not about images, it’s about you.
Thank you for trusting me.