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Eve time before the happy new year

Eve: 1) the day preceding a solemn religious feast, once dedicated to spiritual preparation with nocturnal prayer vigils.
2) by extension the day or period of time preceding a certain event (from the Latin ‘vigilia’ vigil, in the Roman military order night watch of the sentinels in the camp, and hence also vigilance, from ‘vigilis’ vigile).

Eve of change. Rome, Via Agostino Depretis, December 19th 2023.

So we pass by extension from Christmas Eve, once dedicated to the prayer vigil and now to the vigil for the dinner, to the vigilant coma or the eve of a disaster; from “questa tanto picciola vigilia de’ nostri sensi ch’è del rimanente”, Dante, to the ironic “never finding happiness in the vigil time, they studied to be happy sleeping”, Leopardi; from the gangs of “vigilantes“ of ill repute to the virtuous female vigilantes of the primary school of yore.

Motherhood of our time. Rome, Via del Corso, December 1st 2023.

Of all this galaxy of meanings that intersect and connect by extension, what remains, however, is the deepest and most elementary sense of time that precedes an event, a time of expectation, perhaps of hope, in any case a time suspended in limbo: the expectation of an event that must catch us awake, and which must be watched over (here is another extension).

Match, under the eyes of an incongruous referee. Ravello (SA), Piazza Duomo, December 31th 2023.

The photographs that make up this work are very different, taken in distant places, united only, except for the last one, by the fact that they are all from December 2023, the month of vigils par excellence in our culture, the month of waiting for the solstice festivities, of which our Christmas is the last incarnation, and the last month before the start of the new year.

Bonfire in the square for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Venticano (AV), Via Commenda di Malta, December 8th 2023.

I have tried to render the atmosphere of this eve-time period with some slightly discombobulated images, eschewing the usual Christmas decorations, but finding that sense of expectation and suspension in the slightly astonished expression of a family of tourists sitting in front of a bolted door, or in the gaze of a reincarnation of Behemot, rather than in a game played under the eyes of a surreal referee, or in the gaze resting on the bonfire of a village festival, or in the watchful gaze of a small dog absurdly carried in a pushchair like a baby.

Until we arrive at the last photograph, which does not hint at an eve but at the worrying dawn of the new year, which nothing gives us any reason to think will be better than the one just passed.

Enclosure for the Three Kings. Rome, Piazza S.Salvatore in Lauro, December 29th 2023.
Domes and small domes. Rome, Via della Conciliazione, December 27th 2023.
Black Cat’s Eve. Ravello (SA), Via S. Francesco, December 31th 2023.
Crucified door, waiting for the opening. Rome, Via del Governo Vecchio, December 29th 2023.
Looking into the fire with the profile of a Roman emperor. Venticano (AV), Via Commenda di Malta, December 8th 2023.
The worrying dawn of 2024. Ravello (SA), Via della Repubblica, January 1st 2024.
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Pietro Coppa

Nato e vissuto a Roma, fotografo per antica passione.

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