giovanni cocco – monia

Emerging Photographer Fund – 2012 Runner up

 

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

EPF 2012 Finalist

 

Giovanni Cocco

Monia

play this essay

 

This work is an ongoing project; it started five years ago, in silence. The photographs came first, before any other project, and before the story, which they belong to. They are the result of an experience and the desire to tell it.

Monia is my sister. She is disabled since birth, where she has probably suffered a traumatic brain injury. She lives with our parents in a small town in Abruzzo. My mother takes care of her every day, every hour, always, giving her security and serenity. My family lives in habits, simple gestures and long moments without words or actions. A world away from everything else, solitary, confined, but not empty, where time is made up of moments, a present that does not need to project into the future.

Photographing Monia is an act of knowledge and research. It is a way to understand her, wondering what she thinks and what she wants. From life, from me. Soon it won’t just be the approach through photography, which will bring me to her, to remember the gestures and glances with which she seems to touch and see the world. One day she will be part of my life, she will have to deal with me, every day, with the way I see her and love her. Telling her story and her life is the first step for one to enter the life of the other, with both the joy and the difficulty of the encounter.

With the assistance of the Emerging Photographer Fund I would have more time to spend with her. Time to tell better this story. In the end there will be a book and an exhibition.

 

Bio

Giovanni Cocco was born in Sulmona, Italy, in 1973. After years of photographing his native region, Abruzzo, from an anthropological perspective, the Italian photographer turned his lens to social and environmental reportage, alternating between dripping color and dreamlike tableaux in black and white. For over 5 years he has been working on a long term social project documenting the life of his sister and family. Now his work focuses on migrants in Europe. His work has been published in leading international news magazines. In 2010, he takes part of the VII Mentor Program.

 

23 Responses to “giovanni cocco – monia”


  • After reading the text and seeing the first image, I feel that I don’t even need to see the rest of the photos.

    You write so beautifully well. Spirited.

    I wish you luck with the rest of this project.

    And of course, now I’m going to look at ALL the images!

  • I think allowing comments on an essay like this is a bit unfair. The piece is about family, its about closeness despite barriers, its about love. It is an intimate portrait of a family member who has reduced faculties arising from a birth trauma.

    What are we supposed to say to that?
    How can we talk to that in any other way than with sensitivity for the whole family?
    Which leads to the question; How can you critique the pictures fairly without this influencing you?

    Because to point out the obvious fact that the pictures on their own are not in any way special is somehow missing the point that this isnt about the pictures, but the people in them.
    Like I say; comments here are unfair if we are to be honest about what we see.

    John

  • Beautiful essay. Very touching.

    John, I see what you are saying, but for me the essay is perfect for what it is. There is emotion. You feel it.
    Giovanni put his mark on it. This is his…the way he feels it…not just the way he sees it.

    I totally see your point about the comments thing…but it could be an interesting conversation because it’s a relevant point and still be “on topic” about the essay.

  • I should say “I feel it” not YOU…sorry

  • I think you had to be there to appreciate the essay. It’s too personal for a series of photos alone to communicate. The photos clearly communicate something important to the photographer, but are merely photographs outside that relationship.

  • “Because to point out the obvious fact that the pictures on their own are not in any way special is somehow missing the point ”

    If truth be told,the same could be said for 99% of the photographs posted here for the last 4 years
    from beginners to established industry stars.
    In isolation, most are not destined to become iconic examples of photographic ‘art’ but ,in
    the proper context they have the potential to inform and move.

  • Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.–Lao Tzu

    By far, my favorite of the ‘winners’…the essay contains some of my favorite images of all the EPF finalists and more importantly, what lay at the heart of the work and the story…and i am not speaking about disability but about something simpler and finer and that is this:

    that without taking care of others and without in turn being taken care of, we are dross…

    profound, meditative, loving, observant, committed, unassuming and fully aware it both its tenderness and its loss….to raise and arm against the shadowing of the light…

    won’t write more than that…i don’t agree with john at all about comments being unfair, but stories were meant to be shared, listened to and spoken about….though i do agree with him on this point: words (and my own included) are completely unnecessary to the conviction and grace and power of the imagery…

    i would have awarded this the big money of the 3….

    intimacy over all the world-traveling photographers in a heart-beat, fractured by that luminous red-constellation of light…

    congrats Giovanni and thank you above all for forwarding your families life to each of us…

  • BOB. I said no such thing or anything remotely like it. Almost exactly the opposite in fact.

  • John, I do not agree. I see no barrier here to being totally honest. If I thought the photography were lacking I would say so. It is not lacking however. The photographs are beautiful, sensitive, and visually inventive and engaging. “The piece is about family, its about closeness despite barriers, its about love. It is an intimate portrait of a family member who has reduced faculties arising from a birth trauma.” Your own words John and a great description of what is going on here. The essay has obviously moved you.

    I too am moved by this essay. I have to admit a bias, as I am the parent of a mentally handicapped adult who lives with me half of the time.

    This essay focuses on the joy, the love, and the gift that Monia brings, rather than the burden. She is one of the beautiful colours in the spectrum of humanity.

    Finally, an up-lifting essay, a breath of sweet fresh air, a respite from the darkness and the tsk tsk point of view that seems to be the stamp of “serious” work.

    Bravo bravo bravo

  • Bob, yes, by far my favourite

  • John:

    you wrote:

    “I think allowing comments on an essay like this is a bit unfair. The piece is about family, its about closeness despite barriers, its about love. It is an intimate portrait of a family member who has reduced faculties arising from a birth trauma.

    What are we supposed to say to that?
    How can we talk to that in any other way than with sensitivity for the whole family?
    Which leads to the question; How can you critique the pictures fairly without this influencing you?

    Because to point out the obvious fact that the pictures on their own are not in any way special is somehow missing the point that this isnt about the pictures, but the people in them.
    Like I say; comments here are unfair if we are to be honest about what we see.”

    We can (if someone wishes) talk about both the photos AND the idea of the study and how that conveys itself to the reader…whether or not a story is successful or not (as artifice: meaning, making pictures/sequence about a life) has NO relationship as with regard to the family, per se.

    I mean, just because people like or don’t like the story, doesn’t mean this has a baring on either the family or the story teller. Yes, people will be moved by the story (I WAS MOVED BY THE PHOTOGRAPHS FIRST OF ALL, as i didn’t know the exact nature of the story or family when i saw it at epf, i was just reacting to the pictures)…have the story here now adds to the life behind the pictures, for sure,…yes, a story about life struggle and love and endurance is moving, even if pictures are not,etc…but for me, the pictures are not only moving (because of the reality) but in the context of writing/speaking about photographic work, the pictures move me because many of them are just magical, as pictures, period, full stop. I understood (i hope) what you were suggesting (that writing about this essay has little relevance to the truth of the lives or may even

    because, to me honest: i would say: this statement seems shocking “Because to point out the obvious fact that the pictures on their own are not in any way special is somehow missing the point that this isnt about the pictures, but the people in them…”

    it is obvious to YOU/your eeye that the pictures on their own are not in any way special..but NOT to me, in fact, quite the opposite frankly….instead, i’m surprised at your reaction, one who normally is critical about such a thing (shouldn’t critize as it might take away/hurt the lives of the people in the story or unfairly influence (negatively) the photographer)….

    i would say: man, your eye must either be jaded or the visual strength in many of them is just not your cup of tea…thus the it may be unfair for you (or you may feel unfair) but i do not, because i find many many of these photographs not only visually powerful but allow one to get beyond the usual take on caring for one with disabilities….2, 12 (Richards would be proud of this shot), 14, 17,21, 25 are among the most strong in the entire epf…

    isn’t 12 a reincarnation of Richards picture of folks by fan in Florida

    17 is pinkassov sibling etc etc etc

    the point is that for me (and maybe others) the story works because of the pictures and the sequence and not only because of our sympathy for the story….

    and well, any story that can bring together two wildly different reactions (to the pictures, lets say, not the story at hand) MUST be doing something right…
    i’m sorry if you feel i’ve misunderstood you…..again

    all the best,
    b

  • To me, the photos are strong. They were taken in setting and circumstance that mostly leads to personal snapshots, loved by those who take and pose in them, but don’t do much for a wider audience. Not these – these are not snapshots. They are photographs – beautiful, strong, emotional and they tell a story. They don’t tell the whole story – emotionally, that might still be a little too hard for the photographer to do, but they create a powerful essay that strongly implies even the unseen parts. Also, it is good to see something that dwell totally in gloom, doom, and the depravity of human toward human, but depicts brightness in a seemingly very hard situation, finds joy there, and hope.

    When the winning essay was posted first, I stated my opinion that it was definitely the right one to have won. I still think so… but am not quite so certain after seeing this essay in full.

  • damnit… should read “that does not dwell totally…”.

  • Yes, they are lovely, caring photos. I get it. I even get your references, Bob. But there is not enough there to break through the history that includes all those references. Good photos, hitting all the right notes, are not enough anymore. You can call it jaded, I guess. And perhaps that’s a result of the decades of my life saturated with images. But the photographic world is filled with these kinds of images. I’m not sure where photography needs to go from here. Perhaps it just needs those of us who carry the history in our heads to die off, and then everything old will truly be new again.

  • I am father of a son with the Asperger’s syndrome. I also photograph him, from time to time. It is not easy, because I am too close, emotionally. Yes, sometimes there are good pictures, but most of the time it is the same picture.
    This essay here is much more. It is not only the story of Monia, it is much more than this: It is the story of Giovanni trying to understand his sister via photography. Within me, there are a lot of emotions coming up – about caring for children, but also questions coming up – like what will be, once the parents aren’t there anymore? How will the future for Monia be then? Therefore, I appreciate these pictures, because they also show a good life. A life in harmony, integration and love.

    Congratulations for being published here, and good luck and a continuous happy life for Monia.

  • I definitely disagree with John and agree with Bob. Frostfrog, you said it best.

    This is my favorite essay from the EPF entries posted so far as well. I liked them at the very first glance, before I read the text and had any idea what the photos were about. I find most of the photos are individually very strong.

    The photographer has managed to communicate not only his sisters feelings and emotions, but also reflects his own, through these pictures. It warms my heart that Monia is so well cared for.

    Giovanni, thanks for sharing these moments with us. I wish you and your sister all the best for the future.

  • I love this essay, congratulations Giovanni!!

    for me too, my favorite from this years selection.

    i look at these photos and they touch me, inspire me… i rarely read statements… for me it’s always about the images and what they convey.

  • Such a gentle way to tell a very common story, a story that affects so many people, but is unique for each one.. no drama, very introspective.. such is life, and love..

  • It’s a story which, through these real photos, tell us the power of the family love. In a simple way. Wiyhout special dramatic effects. It works well, in my opinion. Congrats to Giovanni.
    robert

  • Wow. Moving and complex.

    I think the photos are special and unique, though some do follow the typical cliches we have come to know and most all of us are guilty of having exploited at one time or another (photographing through, flare, focusing on background vs foreground, etc). It’s become the visual language of photography, like it or not. But to me that in no way distracts from or disempowers the purpose and intent of this essay. The only images that I would critique are #14 and 24. I know what he’s trying to do, but it’s too forced for me. No one can really see through her eyes (which is what I felt the intent of those pics are but maybe I’m wrong). The strongest picture for me is #18. It really points out that isolation she must feel (or not – who knows?) or at least the isolation others must feel from her.

    Good luck and stay strong.

  • EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!
    (and thats an understatement!!!
    BRAVO

    (thank you for promoting great photography by digging “inside”)
    deep bow

  • Amazing use of light and touching approach. Great!

  • Ah, so sensitive. Poignant. Yes, worthy. Perhaps you’d have had to have been there but I don’t think it takes from the ability of the essay to grasp with the human emotion or condition. I think I get it.

    Giovanni Cocco – a suggestion – perhaps something to put at the back of your mind. In the fullness of time when responsibility rests on your shoulders, and the relationship alters and deepens to carer, and expectantly as guardian (perhaps sole?), it may make for a very interesting 25 frames should you be of a mind to allow or facilitate someone document Monia at that stage and compare to your 25 frames. If even to be done for private consumption only. One (or a variation) to think about.

    A wonderful, lovely essay.

Leave a Reply

You must login to post a comment.