TRACES


Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, in the year 2120. In an exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic, which objects will the display cases be exhibiting? What tangible symbols will we associate with this experience that we've gone through together?

We tried to put ourselves in the shoes of the curators of the Rome exhibition – we can be sure there'll be one – and tried to imagine what objects they will choose.


The visitors will see an assortment of face masks, medical coats, goggles, plastic face shields and Tyvek overalls, the personal protective equipment (PPE) used by doctors and nurses in the hospitals. They'll see lung ventilators, pulse oximeters and oxygen tanks. There will also be the snorkelling masks that were modified for hospital use. This is obvious.

However, perhaps they'll see a collection of items that to the 22nd century eye will seem pathetically antiquated, and that even our 21st century eye already doesn't view in the same way it did just a few months ago.

The video camera the priest directed towards the altar where he celebrated a solitary mass. The microphone used by the professor to give a lecture to a deserted university lecture theatre. The drone that flew above those venturing outside during the lockdown. The coffin made of untreated wood, brutal in its simplicity, used far too many times to encase the bodies of virus victims, people who never imagined they would take their final journey in the back of an army lorry.



The camera for online lessons in an empty lecture hall at Milan’s Polytechnic University.

Ancona, Matteo Duca tailor’s shop. Once finished, the face masks are arranged and prepared for packaging.

Chairs for the press conference at the Milan trade fair exhibition centre where a new hospital coordinated by the Lombardy Region is being built.

Milan, the Mangiagalli Hospital’s postnatal ward. Surgical clogs outside the ward for women who are Covid-19 positive.

Bergamo, the Giovanni XXIII Hospital, coffins of Covid-19 victims in the morgue, waiting to be transported to the cemetery.

Caponago (near Monza), oxygen tanks are ready to be transported from the Sapio company premises.

Cremona. A war surgery manual in the field hospital built by the American NGO Samaritan's Purse.

Cieffe Milano in Soncino (near Cremona), a company that produces clothing for designer fashion labels, has been converted to manufacturing face masks and protective clothing for doctors in Covid hospitals. In the sewing room, the prototype for a protective suit.

The laboratories of the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa. Alessio Del Bue and his team have developed open source software to improve thermal imaging cameras in order to detect body temperature by pinpointing the subject’s forehead.

The calendar on which Niccolò, who’s obliged to spend lockdown with his parents at their home near Latina, has decided to keep track of the days.

Rome, 26 March 2020. While waiting to enter the supermarket, a woman proudly shows the care and attention she puts into getting dressed and looking after her hands.

Scataglini Tessuti of Castelfidardo (near Ancona) has converted its production line in order to manufacture face masks. Notes from one of the first orders.

In church of SS. Faustino e Giovita in Sorbolo (near Parma), the parish priest Aldino Arcari celebrates mass behind closed doors. He films the ceremony and shares it online with the village’s believers.

In a clothing store in the Darsena area, in Milan, in the days before the national lockdown the mannequins were fitted with face masks. One of many attempts to defuse the growing anxiety about the situation.

Milan, face masks to be added to the health kits distributed by the charity ARCA.

At the Humanitas San Pio X Hospital in Milan, Diarti Mane, who was originally from Albania, uses a tablet provided by the hospital to watch his wife Luna Melchiorri give birth to their baby daughter, Camilla.

Bergamo, the Giovanni XXIII Hospital, Covid-19 patients ward.

Based on an idea by Renato Favero, a former head doctor at the Gardone Val Trompia Hospital (near Brescia), Decathlon snorkelling masks can be transformed into respirators. The FabLab tech company then produces the valves that enable the masks to be connected to oxygen cylinders.

Genoa. Nurse Francesca Simonetta, who just finished her shift in the high-risk infection patient ward, is in the complex process of removing her PPE on board the MV Splendid, which has been converted into a Covid-19 hospital.

Hospital ventilator valves produced by the Prosilas company in Civitanova Marche (near Macerata).

Modesto Lamattina, the mayor of Caggiano (near Salerno), has used a calendar to mark every day that his municipality has been a red zone.

At the premises of Sapio in Caponago (near Monza), liquid oxygen is pumped into the tanker lorry, causing the tubes to freeze.

Silvio Garattini is a scientist from Bergamo, and the president and founder of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan. Here he speaks via Skype about the health emergency, the prospects for the search for a Covid-19 vaccine and the various theories surrounding the spread of the virus during the Champions League match between Atalanta and Valencia on 19 February 2020. This game, which saw thousands of fans from Spain and Bergamo congregate at Milan’s San Siro stadium, is often referred to as “match zero”.

Milan. Karin Freschi (left) and Flavia Silva, teachers at the Ganga Yoga school, film a lesson which they will then post online.

Elisa Borghi, associate professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Milan, in her laboratory at the San Paolo Hospital. She is using a fluorometer donated by a Chinese company to analyse samples from Covid-19 patients.

At the premises of Sapio in Caponago (near Monza), a detail of a portable oxygen tank for medical use.

Latex gloves, one of the most significant symbols of the pandemic.

The Winter Garden Hotel, Bergamo. The exit sign in the back of the parking lot. On 18 March, the hotel made its facilities available to Covid-19 patients who had been discharged from hospital, but who still tested positive. They need to wait before going home so as to be absolutely certain of not posing a threat to their families.

Cieffe Milano of Soncino (near Cremona), a company that produces clothing for designer fashion labels, has converted to manufacturing face masks and protective clothing for doctors in Covid hospitals. In the sewing room, a prototype for a protective suit.

At the premises of Sapio in Caponago (near Monza), vaporisation systems for the gasification of liquid oxygen.

Piacenza, in the field hospital built by the Italian Army.

The headquarters of Planet Farms in Milan, where engineers are studying alternatives to traditional agriculture, to support a sector which is facing significant challenges. This is due to the lack of available manpower caused by the Covid emergency.

At the Antica Distilleria Russo in Mercato San Severino (near Salerno), a machine that produces bottles for alcohol. The Covid-19 emergency has seen a dramatic increase in the demand for alcohol, and the factory is working three shifts, 24 hours a day in order to meet it.

Rome, the Pigneto district, 26 March 2020. The first signs of a new kind of pollution: personal protective equipment is starting to invade the city's streets.

Caorle (near Venice), the first umbrellas repositioned on the beach in anticipation of phase 2. The distances, pending official directives, have been doubled compared to previous years.

Niccolò, who has been in lockdown with his parents, checks the latest online purchases.

At the Sapio premises in Caponago (near Monza), portable oxygen tanks are filled before being sent for home use.

Hospital ventilator valves produced by the Prosilas company in Civitanova Marche (near Macerata).

In Rome, when it came to celebrating May 1st, there were only a few red flags at the window and some red balloons floating in the wind.


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