“One, no one and fifty thousand”

Inside Venetians’ Houses   

by Marc De Tollenaere

For ten years Marc De Tollenaere has encountered eyes, voices, stories and mysteries hidden behind the rough walls of Venetian houses. He has listened to many legends and shared many secrets. In the magic circle that encloses the masterpieces of a civilization that grew up on the water and out of nowhere, he instinctively followed the narrow streets and entered the palaces, he visited apartments and artists’ houses, he climbed the roofs and went down to the warehouses, he stopped in the hidden gardens and courtyards, where the echo of the ancients sounds more clearly than elsewhere.

A contemporary fresco, made up of people, environments and unpublished stories. 

Here they are the Venetians. First portrayed in their homes by an artist armed with a Leica, curiosity and stoicism. To capture the right snapshot, the fleeting shot that captures forever a world increasingly in danger.

Marc De Tollenaere was born in Libya, a few months before Gaddafi took power in a coup, from Belgian father and from once Italian region Istra refugee mother.

The lack of home and roots has produced a kind of vacuum inside him, a nostalgia, a subconscious desire to search. If it is true that photography is memory, then he photographs to remember what he has not been able to experience.

The thousand year old culture of the cities of art around the world is under pressure. Threatened by the invasion of hit and run tourism, by speculation and by the transformation of the urban environment. Neighborhood shops and artisans must give way to junk sellers of tourist items. Homes for families are transformed into tourist rentals, small hotels, landlords, bed and breakfasts. 

One, the individuality of the person; no one, the inhabitants who will survive in the cities of art, and fifty thousand, the number of residents remaining in Venice, which in 1951 numbered 174,808, and who are sounding the alarm to other cities of art in the world.  

These photographs bear witness to an era. They are fragments of a civilization in danger that will be studied, in a few centuries, thank to these “artifacts” of art. Each subject is depicted in the environment where he lives, his home. The fresco is formed by the sum of its details. A world that hands down a cultural heritage of ancient reminiscences.