We were told repeatedly we were ten days to two weeks behind Italy, but denial and disbelief have powerful effects.
Alex Majoli’s shadowy portraits were already nightmarish when they were published in Vanity Fair ten days ago. But now that we in the U.S. have “caught up,” their immediacy makes them that much more frightening.
Of the series, these two really haunt me. Considering the two old men walking past a cameraman (the news never dies), the virus is framed as the grim reaper.
And then there’s the shot of the paramedic hosing down a hospital bed with disinfectant, the old contraption looking like its own kind of monster. Given COVID’s scale and speed, its blistering lethality, and the inscrutable mechanism of the disease, this mundane act is its own monstrosity.
Photos: Alex Majoli/Magnum. From “The Eye of the Storm,” Vanity Fair, March 2020.
Caption 1: Two old friends at the Catania train depot pass a TV cameraman. On the eve of the nationwide lockdown, the last train bearing passengers from northern Italy is three hours late. Caption 2: In an E.R. in the northern city of Reggio Emilia, a paramedic sprays down hospital beds. Along with Lombardy, the Emilia-Romagna region has been among the most ravaged by the pandemic.