Another in my series of portraits of ordinary objects. Most of my ordinary objects portraits depict well-used, sort of unloved objects, but this is a brand-new (or at least nearly new) fire hose connector inside the Fortezza Basso complex in Florence.
This began life as an attempt at improving my street photography skills. What happened was I created an accidental narrative when I caught the other boy walking into the frame.
Who are they? Are they friends, meeting outside the Burger King? Lovers? Total strangers who just happen to be put together by my camera? A mugger and his soon-to-be victim? I think I know the truth of the matter, but that’s A: boring and B: closed off from the many possible stories in the scene. And the best I can do is think I know the truth, and in the end, the truth of the scene doesn’t really matter.
When you get off the Pyramide Metro station, the very first thing you see upon exiting is the old city gate in the walls of Rome. Pan left and the very next thing is the Pyramid of Cestius. Caius Cestius was a wealthy Roman citizen who, inspired by the pyramids of Egypt, decided he wanted a white marble pyramid as his funerary monument. He had his tomb built into the city walls. His goal of not being forgotten certainly succeeded as we still know who he was today, some two thousand years after his passing.
His monument backs onto the “English” Cemetery, known technically as the Cimiterio Accatolico (non-Catholic cemetery), final resting place of many English expatriates (and Russian, and American, and French…) including the luminaries of 19th century Romantic literature, Shelley and Keats. The Pyramid of Cestius is in fact open for tours, but they only offer them one day a week, twice a month, and you need to make reservations.
The Roman subway trains are covered in graffiti in a way reminiscent of the New York City subway trains in the 1970s and 80s. I assume the yards where the trains are parked at night are insecure – that would be the only explanation I can think of for the sheer amount of graffiti.
While my memory of New York City subways in the 1970s is a bit vague, my impression is that the graffiti there was not so much artistic as it was mostly tagging by individuals and/or gangs. Here, as in seemingly all things Italian, there is an underlying artfulness to at least some of it.
And even the text commentary (“Who sleeps not [something] with the fishes”) is relevant to the designs. I don’t know if my misreading of the handwriting is wrong or if the phrase is some Italian/Roman slang phrase that Google Translate can’t figure out. Any readers who understand the expression, please chime in and correct me!
Another of my portraits of ordinary objects – this time a trash can in Rome, outside the Theater of Marcellus, at the foot of the Palatine Hill. The trash can sits at attention, doing its duty exposed to the elements. Neither rain nor snow nor ill-placed cigarette butts deter it from its appointed task.
I don’t usually photograph in the rain, but I was so excited to be in Rome, running around and photographing without constraints, I didn’t care if people were staring at me as if I were some kind of freak, photographing a trash can in the rain with a 60 year old camera. This particular composition appealed to me because while the trash can is the center of attention and the star of the show, the background of the cafe umbrellas and the woman in the red coat with matching umbrella convey an extra level of that sense of how people turn their backs on public conveniences like trash cans and ignore them until they need them. Everything else is more important and more deserving of protection/attention.
I found this fountain with its traditional wolf’s head and SPQR inscription, both symbols of ancient Rome, in the entrance courtyard to the Centrale Montemartini museum. I suspect they’re relics of the Fascist era as the power plant was built during Mussolini’s pre-war leadership, and symbols of Imperial Rome were in very high demand.
Today, it adds a touch of tranquility to an industrial setting.
Two more views of the bridge over the railroad tracks at Garbatella: