Four people sitting and having a drink are painted on the closed shutter door of a pub in the Navigli district accompanied by the words: “What else?”. An emblematic image symbolizing the nights of March and April 2020 in Milan.
The photojournalistic work I had been assigned allowed me to go out during the nights of the lockdown and record my testimony of the city.
I must confess, it was hard to get used to the task. I felt lost, not understanding, not wanting to accept the place in which I was.
Milan was completely dark, immobile, as if it had been abandoned by its millions of inhabitants. The murmur of the empty tramways, without passengers, was the only contrast to the surreal silence. The few people one could see in the streets were the “riders”, the bike riders who delivered food that those trapped at home had ordered online. Others, almost hiding, went out to walk their dogs, all the while staying within the required 200 meters from their home. Milan coronavirus night photography
The Milan of incessant nightlife in Corso Como or in the Navigli had suddenly faded, shrouded in a sepulchral emptiness. Even the sound of a piece of paper blown by a gentle gust and fallen to the ground was enough to break the piercing silence. Milan coronavirus night photography
In “Piazza del Duomo” the marble cathedral received its lonely visit of the moon. After a few minutes, my photo session became secondary, and all my attention was focused on contemplating this exciting scene, of which I was a unique, privileged witness. The “Duomo” and the moon were more resplendent than ever, and it seemed that they were secretly conversing with all humanity. Countless times I have been in front of the Duomo, but never had its magical beauty reached so deeply into my spirit as this time.
So like this, over many nights, I delved into the mystery and silence of the streets. The monuments, the lonely buildings, and I became intimate accomplices of the stopped city, petrified in the dark silence.
Time passed however, and when spring came around, the windows began to open again. From inside came lights and the voices of people who, without realizing it, revealed to the silence outside the stories of their lives.
I thought the silent and deserted nights of March and April were part of the past, and my images would be a testimony to history.
But all of Europe is currently suffering under an increase in the coronavirus and adopting new restrictive measures in the face of this “second wave”. Milan coronavirus night photography
First Paris, and then Milan enforced a “coprifuoco” (curfew) between 11pm and 5am, prohibiting all movement of people.
Thus. as I write these words, these images unexpectedly have regained their dramatic relevance.
Pablo Munini , Milan 23 October 2020
Milan coronavirus night photography