Living with Covid-19

Covid-19 has been living in my apartment for the past 15 days. It falls asleep inches from my head and wakes up beside me. I breathe its breath. I’ve always been reluctant to call my apartment “home” here in Catania.

Over the past 10 years I’ve traversed the Middle East, photographing cities, their inhabitants and the conflicts that have ravaged that area of the world for decades. The streets of Baghdad, Mosul, Kabul, Amman, Khartoum and Tehran have been my home. I’d always considered those 50 sq metres in Catania as a pied-à-terre, a place to keep my clothes and my photo archive. I never could have imagined that after documenting the desperation of refugee camps in Iraq or mass graves in Sinjar, or aboard an ambulance collecting the dead among the Kurdish resistance in northern Syria, that I’d have to confront the world’s biggest story in my own small apartment.

I’ve been living with Covid-19 since mid-March. My mother, my partner, the reporter Marta Bellingreri, and other people close to me have been infected, but somehow I have been spared. I interpreted this peculiar twist as if Covid-19 had chosen me to photograph it from a different perspective. And I met the challenge, also because the reasons that brought the virus into my apartment are also extraordinarily tied to my career as a photographer.