WRITTEN BY // Cristina Insinga


During the Christmas time, she decided to go to the most common and popular places in Messina, to realize a photographic project about “Christmas” habits in Messina in times of crisis: what would the “Messinese” bring on to their tables during family dinners, what presents would they give to their children, and what games and pastimes would they create to set aside everyday problems?

Her research unfortunately failed immediately. The scenario she found was that of every day, where the crisis was undisputed lord and master, and there was no room left for anything else, even at Christmas.

Once arrived at the Central Station in Messina, Cristina Insinga decided at first to look for someone willing to be taken in photos and to show what he had in his shopping bags or the toys just bought for Christmas.

As soon as she went through one of the main door of the Station, she immediately found a man at the secondary entrance sleeping on the ground. A normal situation that impresses anyhow and does it even more if you think that many other men from Messina in racket and tie do the same every evening after their job because with their salary they cannot pay the rent of a house at the end of the month.

So, they spend their Christmas this way, among the indifference of people, the traffic and the cold weather, that humid and biking weather that is typical of this town.

Going past the station, the situation didn’t’ change. 

What her eyes saw was the normal every day scenery, with the only difference that between a light pole and the other Christmas lights were hung.

And if from one side these last ones could amaze the eyes of a child in the arms of a grandfather, from another side they were unnoticed by the seniors seated on the benches reading newspapers with the last news on the pensions that the new Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti was discussing. 

Cristina Insinga meanwhile, between one shoot and the other one, was still looking for the protagonists of her story, those people from Messina who with strength and courage were willing to be taken in photos and to witness with their smiles that they can be able to put aside the every day problems at least at Christmas.

Many and different have been the reactions of the people asked to be taken in photos, like “no thanks”; “I have to go” “I do not want to appear on a newspaper” and others more or less similar ones.

And while she was taking photos of what was happening around her, she reached Piazza Cairoli: the important center of Messina, well known for its shops, sweets and “life”.  

Here, family parents were walking among the people waiting for the tram with the eyes looking to the ground, deeply absorbed by their thoughts and daily worries.

Young people without a job wandering around the town looking for something to do to occupy their time. Closed shops and not for Christmas holidays but for recession. 

That morning Cristina succeeded anyhow in taking pictures of many situations; this brought her to understand that the unquestioned protagonists of her project were unfortunately only the “crisis” and the “loneliness”, so strong and accentuated in that period of the year that she could trace a faithful portrait of Messina town and its citizens, and more in general of the whole Italy. An Italy struggling everyday to survive and that sees as an unique solution to be able to go on cuts and redundancy with detriment of those families that hardly arrive at the end of the month.

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