My grandma and I: the Agoraphobia project

Agoraphobia is an emotionally-immersive, long-term project which explores the domestic intimacy in the world of a woman with whom I am most deeply connected: my granny, now aged ninety-four, who suffers from agoraphobia and thus has been confined to her flat for over ten years.

I’ve always called my grandmother Wanda, although that is only a nickname and her real name is Morgantina, a rather unusual Italian name, probably originating from a Greek colony in Sicily. I am particularly attached to Wanda as she has been a source of unconditional love and support throughout my entire life.

Having come back, after many years abroad, to Florence, my hometown, this project began quite naturally as I got to spend a lot of time with my family. Moreover, because of its intimate nature this work has been interesting to me, as an experiment to test the boundaries between the artist and the art. Indeed, the more I dug into the representation of my grandmother’s agoraphobia, the more a strange sense of claustrophobia emerged within me as I spent more time in the solitude of her apartment. And yet, although Wanda’s condition makes her life challenging while lacking human contact, I couldn’t help noticing how her inner world has become filled with fascinating details marked by subtle daily domestic rituals and great care for her space.

I started using photography as a means to capture and document my grandmother’s day to day life, but as the project unfolded I tried to redirect my attention to those images that were not so much related to her performing actions, but rather by the lack of properly defined actions. Following this thread, I tried to capture a feeling of silence, stillness, and, yet, of great beauty, as she navigated the domestic space and became part of it.

However, as the photography project developed, stronger identification with the closeness of her space emerged and it felt almost claustrophobic. That’s when I started crystallizing these feelings of entrapment into poetry.

To me, what makes the work a visually powerful experiment is this use of a double language: on the one hand the photographic representation of my grandmother’s world, and on the other the representation of myself as an artist trapped in her world, through a language that is deeply mine: poetry.


E adesso

che ti sei fatta ditale,


l’ombra dura,

mano di carta


Il mio occhio teso

ti cuce-di-luce

il grembo chiuso

E’ tua la scarpa

che non varca mai la soglia,

di te,

il respiro che trasudano le mura

Non c’è maniglia-imposta-molletta

che tu non abbia stretta

e fatta tempio

e poi rinchiusa


And now

you have become thimble

a mirror that’s split

a hard shadow,

a handful of crumpled paper

My eyes strain


your closed womb

It’s your shoes

that never leave the door,

your breath that dampens the walls

There is no window’s handle

that you haven’t held so tight

and made a temple

and locked yourself inside

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