Feeling with the eyes

Deafness is commonly considered a disease. For most of those affected, however, it is a condition. The deaf live in a very close-knit and active community which however encounters great difficulty in communicating with the rest of society and risks isolation. The problem is not only linguistic, but cultural. Deafness is a non-visible physical dysfunction to which society and the state pay little attention or which they consider only a medical problem. The deaf community, on the other hand, defends its condition and fights for integration. The recognition of the Italian Sign Language as the official language of the State is one of their main battles, to break down the barriers that limit access to many areas of daily life, including those of fundamental rights.

This work is the result of an immersion in the world of the deaf that has lasted for over four years, of slow observation, of listening with the eyes.

It was complex to photograph something that cannot be seen, that is not externally tangible. To be able to stay in their time, I changed my approach to shooting, no longer immediate and instinctive, but reflexive: the camera attached to the eyes to follow their movements, as they moved in a space made of silence. It took more than a year to understand that I shouldn’t start from the void, from what you couldn’t hear, but on the contrary, from their noise. A noise that starts from the higher tone of the voice, from the movement of objects, but also an inner noise. I realized how, compared to others, deaf people quickly go from silence to noise, from moving quickly to remaining almost motionless. The work I have done, in addition to documenting the claim of deaf rights within society, tries to tell what it means to live in silence, and how this implies, in my opinion, a continuous search for a sound or a noise, internal or external.