I have always been in love with London, from the first moment I experienced it back in 1999, then, trampled in 2006, always with different eyes, with different sensations, but in search of stories.
I look at my film shots from 1999 and I remember the light-heartedness, the authenticity and the desire to discover the world, and with this enthusiasm I decided to return.
I didn’t really had a plan, I just wanted to capture what I was seeing, there are so many good moments happening around you throughout the day, and so many vibes to feel.
We usually connect London to the gray sky and the dark smoke of the chimneys, this time I met a blue sky and an incredible light.
It was fantastic to go from the thunderbolt of the sun’s rays reflected in the buildings, to the dark lighting of the subway, bewildered by the screeching impact of the trains running through the tunnels and by the pounding voice: “mind the gap”
Despite this, I have always been fascinated by the ‘tube’, a sort of portal to a parallel world, surreal, unstable and at the same time peaceful.
Sometimes you feel disconnected and incredibly relaxed, enough to be able to read or listen to music.
But what I find most fascinating are the people and the connection that is sometimes created. Earlier I was talking about being disconnected, but all of a sudden you find a connection with someone, and all of this is amazing!
I often get on a train and look at each person, wondering what they were thinking, where they were going, if they were happy, if they were afraid, if they had enough or if they were not thinking about anything or anyone.
I often met someone’s gazes and smiles, to have the joy of reciprocating, and for a brief moment there was this magical connection.
It’s a good feeling, a smile goes so far, when things don’t make much sense in life.
But other times it happened to look away, for fear of invading their space.
Then, you come out of this tunnel again, where stories, gazes, intertwine and you find yourself breathing the air of the city and its living to the fullest, where cultures and diversities are the setting for a metropolis that always turns, like London Eye, in a perpetual timelapse.
In London you can decide who you want to be: whether a double-breasted manager, wearing a heel 15, or flip flops in winter, or being a skater, or a street musician or a punk who still hopes to experience the nonconformist period of the London of the 70’s.
But times are changed, London is no longer the metropolis of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s … those who hope to see all this will be disappointed.
Now the streets of the city center are the domain of tourists, rich people and snobbish mothers who go shopping, with the three-wheeled stroller, drinking decaffeinated coffee in the immense paper cups of Starbucks.
To breathe what remains of London a bit punk, nonconformist, messed up, controversial, where there is still a sign of the passage of musicians, artists, bands, you have to go to Camden Town or, in the vibrant Brixton neighborhood in south London, where Paul Simon, bassist of the Clash, grew up.
Camden either you love it or you hate it, there is no middle ground.
You must like his perfect mess of him!
In these days I wandered there, and, I was in a historic pub in this neighborhood, the famous Dublin Castle.
Just to go into more detail, Blur, Oasis, Travis, Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse have passed through this pub… yes, she who was and will always be the queen of Camden Town.
But as the Dublin Castle manager says, without her Camden Town has lost some soul and vibes.
And I believe it!
It is as if the polish has been lost a little, but I have perceived this almost everywhere, even in Portobello Road, Nothing Hill and along King’s Road, one of the main streets of London.
What hasn’t changed since 1999?
In London, if you pay you can have it all, every day at all hours, you often find yourself seeing the past and the future at the same time, from the medieval style in the shadow of the new skyscrapers.
Living it is an infinite discovery, like finding yourself in many cities at the same time.
London is a Tower of Babel that gathers many languages, cultures, ethnic groups, diversities; an important fulcrum endangered in this latest period by the pandemic and by Brexit, never embraced or supported.
But it has survived many other pandemics, as history has taught us: fires, revolutions, the bombs of the Second World War and those of terrorism, kings and queens ousted.
But you always remain imperturbable, always calm, yet dynamically unstoppable.
A restless royalty that has made it what it is, the center of a world that perhaps no longer exists but has never passed.