the communities of Viale Gramsci told in the photos of Marcello Coslovi

A project born of an urgency, of the need to investigate a situation, a reality in Modena coupled with a reputation of violence and prostitution. A hanging, isolated, stigmatized place. A place they would call in the United States The wrong side of the tracks, literally “the wrong side of the railroad”, to denote the poor neighborhood of a city, often inhabited by “the invisible”, members of communities of predominantly foreign descent. in 2020 Marcello Coslovic – a young photographer from Modena – has decided to cross the railway line and climb that invisible wall that surrounds Viale Gramsci and separates its inhabitants from the rest of the city. A neighborhood comparable to an eternal waiting room, of which he wanted to know the stories, the geography and the daily life of the residents. Through his photographs – taken and edited in collaboration with local residents – Marcello directs our gaze to a neglected reality in Modena with the aim of stimulating reflections and evoking questions.

This is “The Wrong Side of the Track”a project in development conceived by Marcello Coslovi while studying at Studio Labò, winner in the category “Best portfolio for sure“at Fotografia Europea 2021, finalist of several international awards and currently exhibited for Fotografia Europea 2022 in the cloisters of San Domenico in Reggio Emilia.

“I started with this expression, The Wrong Side of the Railroad, to generate a reflection on my city, Modena, where the railroad, like a border, marks the two parts of the city. I then focused on Viale Gramsci where many people live from a conceptual point of view I approached the community for a talk on social justice; I have a law degree I have always been interested in these kinds of issues, I have traveled a lot, even in the southern United States, involving I repeated the key of the steps in the life of Martin Luther King, while from a photographic point of view my main reference is ‘Imperial Courts’ by Dana Lixenberg, a Dutch photographer who spent 20 years working in an African American neighborhood in the United States. feel, in empathy with the community, understand from them what they feel and do a work that is the result of collaboration and intimacy”

Thanks to the fortunate encounter with a local resident, lawyer by profession and well integrated into the Ghanaian community, Marcello enters a neighborhood that he will discover governed by precise and impenetrable geographical areas. He meets boys, men and women who live in the area and clashes with the experiences and feelings these tell him, the difficulties, stereotypes, the struggle to get out of a constant state of discomfort and social isolation. Visit the African Market, one of the nearby churches, the basketball court, and a small apartment that houses a number of tenants much higher than they should. It is there every day, sometimes in the morning, afternoon or evening. For two years he builds and consolidates friendships: sometimes he goes with the intention of taking pictures, listening to the ideas and proposals of the boys themselves, while sometimes he just goes to chat and be together.

He doesn’t want to document the lives of these young people, of the community. With his photos, Marcello wants to convey certain images, evoke metaphors to represent the condition of these people, a condition that starts from a specific community but crosses every border because it is universal.

“This is a non-canonical portrait. The aim is to create a different image around the theme and this requires a greater effort from the viewer: he does not have to discuss who the person is, how he is dressed is, etc.. but draw attention to the symbolic behind it. For example, in this photo you can see the tension of the boy trying to take off his fogged glasses. There is the urge to overcome a difficult condition, the impossibility to foresee anything and, on a metaphorical level, to see a future. Yet there is an attempt on his part to overcome this state “

Untitled “The wrong side of the tracks” #03-2

“Also in this photo there is the idea of ​​someone trying to get out of a state represented by a clothesline trying to open. He’s in a very uncomfortable position, there’s tension and trying to get out of the state he’s in. is found”

Untitled “The wrong side of the tracks” #04-2

“This is an exterior detail that creates context. In the photo, it would be a boulder in a puddle in the XXII Aprile Park. Metaphorically, it represents the island where these communities are separated”

Isolation, uncertainty and suspension. These are the words that come from a reflection of the Modenese photographer, acquired in two years of sharing, friendship and comparison with some inhabitants of Viale Gramsci.

“Precarious because one gets the impression that they live in constant and daily uncertainty, always waiting to receive the documents. And in this waiting they are suspended, they have no margin to do anything in Modena, to integrate. Isolation by impenetrability between the groups that inhabit the neighborhood.Many of them struggle to simply have a verbal exchange with the locals.The African is often seen as a stereotype and this increases the distance between these people and others.The simple fact that they live in Being Viale Gramsci and being black – a boy from the neighborhood told me – is immediately associated with being a drug dealer. You don’t see the person, you don’t see what he is like. There is an invisible wall that divides the different communities. Suspension, finally, as it is an area a stone’s throw from the station, it looks like a waiting room, as if these guys were waiting to leave for another journey to the dreamed England. Modena as if she is going through it, for a period that may turn out to be very long, waiting for an opportunity”.


“This photo shows a toy knife and metaphorically means that they want to fight but their means are not suitable. There is also a discourse related to the drug dealer and violence … that is fake violence”.

Marcello, what is the purpose of your photography?

According to James Baldwin, the artist cannot take anything for granted, he must get to the heart of the answers to explain the questions behind these answers. I agree, I am going to explore something that is not so obvious. , researching to raise questions. To compare myself to others, but also to myself, since we all grew up with certain prejudices. It’s an important question. As a reference, I also take inspiration from Yasujiro Ozu, a twentieth-century Japanese director who whispers the I instead of yelling, prefers the implicit over the explicit My photos pretend not to describe, but to remember, to refer to something that touches you gently, and not to shout things.think For me, photography is a bridge to be part of or connect with groups or communities that I’m not a part of, a medium around the invisible wall that separates us to overcome”.


(On photo Marcello Coslovi, Modenese photographer)

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