When you’re losing sight, the world starts to appear fragmented, like through a broken screen. Then you stop understanding where light comes from.” Dale Layne
The blind live in a sighted world. They function in a system constructed on the rules of seeing. Many of them could once see, but after going blind they were forced to reinvent themselves, and their quality of life became deeply affected by disability law, support in the private sphere, and the level of awareness in the society around them. I asked them to guide me into their lives. I’m interested in the disconnect between the concept of blindness as a metaphor and its reality. Stripped of its mysterious aura, the blindness of daily life, the one that’s not heard of in the words of a song, often turns out to be disquieting, and kept at a distance.This project has become a way for me to explore our universal needs. I imagine myself in the position of someone who turned blind, forced to reinvent my relationship to the world after years of a sighted life. When filtered through blindness, the core questions of identity, love and independence feel to me even more resonant.
“Broken Screen” is currently displayed at STILL gallery in Milan, Italy, till January 28, 2016.
Harold, who doesn’t want his last name to be public, is pictured sitting in his living room. New York, NY. July 3, 2013
18_Verbal Description and Touch Tour of the Whitney Biennial 2012, where the blind and visually impaired can experience art pieces without seeing them. The tours are organized every two months and have to be booked. New York. Apr 27, 2012
Michael Faillace, a blind lawyer, swims daily in Asphalt Green, a swimming-pool in the Upper East Side. He says the contact with the water helps drain the stress of his job. New York, NY. October 19, 2012
Blind poet and publisher Steve Cannon is pictured in his office at The Gathering of the Tribes, art gallery and poetry space Cannon founded in 1991, that quickly became a landmark of the New York East Village. New York, NY April 16, 2014
Collin Watts, visually impaired, sitting at a bar in Penn Station, where he transits every time he goes from his home in Jamaica, Queens, to Manhattan. New York, July 29, 2012
Gloria Turnblo, blind since 2010, poses during a class of photography for the blind at Visions center for the blind. The class is taught by Mark Andres, a sighted photographer. Students compose the frame and decide the position of the subject with the help of visual memory. They’re offered descriptive feedback by Andres or a teacher assistant. Their book “Shooting Blind” was published by Aperture in 2005. New York, NY. December 13, 2011
Alexandra Hobbes, blind since the age of four because of domestic violence, listens to the television in the apartment where she lives with her husband Elijah Hobbes, albino and visually impaired. The blind listen to television and hope for a device that more fully describes scenes so they can enjoy the programs on the same level as the hearing impaired. New York, NY. April 16, 2012
Robert Brown, Dale Layne and Cynda Bellamy at the movie theater before the beginning of Cloud Atlas. Robert recently became visually impaired, Dale , (on the phone) is completely blind, and Cynda, sighted, is the recreational specialist at World Services for the Blind. Although few movie theaters are equipped with bluetooth devices providing a description of the scenes for the blind, most of them are not, and they rely on the audio input from the movie and hints from the ones who are sitting with them. Action movies can be especially frustrating, for the presence of long action scenes with no dialogue and a powerful music, that necessarily require visual preception for spectators to follow the thread. Little Rock, Arkansas, January 5, 2013
Flowers can be hit and fall very easily; in some houses they’re kept under transparent plastic bells. Apartment of Dale Layne, Brooklyn, NY. March 8, 2012
Students are pictured during a class of photography at Visions center for the blind. The class is taught by Mark Andres, sighted photographer; the students, either blind or visually impaired, make decisions about the frame, subject, background and colors f the picture using their visual memory. They’re given feedback through the description of the photos by Mark or his assistants. The students formed a collective and their book, “Shooting blind”, was published by Aperture in 2005. New York, NY. December 13, 2011
On a TV screen, two people look at each other. Apartment of Dale Layne. March 8, 2012
“When you’re first losing sight for glaucoma, the world starts to appear fragmented, like through a broken screen. You can see only in some directions. Then you get to the point when you see light but you don’t quite understand where does it come from”. Dale Layne. New York, Apr 2, 2012
Destiny Hobbes, daughter of Elijah and Alexandra Hobbes, respectively visually impaired and blind, is stroked by her mother. Destiny’s eyes are healthy. New York, NY, March 17, 2013
Blind poet and publisher Steve Cannon, 79, is passed the phone by writer George Jay Wienbarg at The Gathering of the Tribes, art gallery and poetry space Cannon founded in 1991, that quickly became a landmark of the New York East Village. New York, NY April 13, 2014
Kitchen of the restaurant Dans le Noir, where blind waiters serve in the pitch black dining room. They’re the only ones able to find orientation in the dark, guide and serve clients. The aim of the restaurant is to let people experience the sensation of eating without seeing the food, or anything else around them. New York. Mar 11, 2012
In the hall of the Whitney museum for the Verbal Description and Touch Tour of the Biennial 2012, where the blind and visually impaired can experience art pieces using other senses but sight. Tours for the blind are organized in many museums in New York, but there’s a request for a more developed concept of universal design, which would make them more autonomous and let the institutions save a lot of money on the long run. Devices would include audiotour radios that they can use without having to push the numbers and more contrasty and bigger wall texts placed at eye-level, easier to read for someone who has a sight deficit New York, Apr 27, 2012
Collin Watt on the beach in Coney Island, working out. On his back, the scars left by the skin peeling off because of Tegretol when he was 12. He was given Tegretol in Queens General Hospital. Tegretol is a medicine used to cure epilepsy and it can cause strong side effects; when Collin took the medicine his skin peeled off and it took it two months hospitalized to grow again. He still carries the scars of this process. His eyes suffered a stroke of blood pressure, going blind except for a limited capability to see from the right eye. He can see colors and guess shapes in presence of a strong contrast. New York. May 13, 2012
Blind poet and publisher Steve Cannon’s hands. New York, NY. April 16, 2014
A bass-relief globe is pictured at the World Services for the Blind (WSB). The WSB is a rehabilitation center for the blind and visually impaired which offers life skills and career training programs designed to help students achieve sustainable independence. Little Rock, AR. January 5, 2013
Collin Watt, visually impaired, looks from a very short distance at a photo shot by Tim Hetherington, at the retrospective at the photographer at Yossi Milo Gallery. Before his death in April 2011, Tim Hetherington had been working on a project with the Milton Margai School for the Blind, Sierra Leone. New York, NY. April 16, 2012
Danielle Corley plays in her room in East New York. Danielle is a sighted child growing up with blind parents. Dominique, her mother, was blinded at the age of 26 in a car crash. She says that “Danielle is still too young to understand blindness fully, but she knows that mom and dad can’t see. Sometimes she waves her hand in front of my face to play. I know that because I can feel the air moving. Generally the problem is that she can say ‘NO’ more than children with sighted parents, but overall I feel I’m doing a pretty good job”. Brooklyn, NY. February 21, 2012
John and Paradise, who had not met before, dance at a birthday party. Brooklyn, NY. November 09, 2014
Raised in Milan, Italy, she studied Art History at University of Bologna and photojournalism at International Center of Photography (ICP). In 2014 she attended the Eddie Adams Workshop and was nominated for the Joop Swart masterclass in the same year. In 2015 her work has been selected for the exhibition reGeneration3 about new approaches to photography at Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne.
Her clients include the New York Times, the New Yorker, Time Magazine, Vogue, the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, VICE, The Guardian, Newsweek and L’Oeil de le Photographie. Her work has been exhibited in the United States, Italy, France, Switzerland, Mexico, Ireland and China.