«Dear passengers this where the world comes to an end, and the train will be going no further.»This is the message – poised between legend and reality – that can be heard over the loudspeakers on the train when it arrives at Vladivostok from Moscow. A reawakening from a 9000 Km journey across Russia.The Trans-Siberian is not a train; it’s a route. Two parallel steel tracks that run the length of the biggest country in the world, from Europe to Asia, from Moscow to the Pacific. Everything meets on these tracks – faces, accents, body shapes, men, women, children, adventurers and families. This is a journey in space and time, and in the history too, of a country as turbulent as a sleeping volcano: Siberia, “the sleeping land”. Here in two parallel worlds, on the train and off the train, lives unfold and run into each other now and again, as well as at the stations. Speed and the same time become deformed. Like a time machine, the train sets up its own and imposes it on the passenger. The time the journey takes. Journey time. People who take on this adventure do so because they’re fascinated by the places, but they soon discover that what really matters is the people they meet. Someone who is more sensitive to and ready to accept the variegated nature of humankind understands this benefit even before getting on the train. Such is the case of Marco. «I don’t want to read» he writes on the first page of his diary. «I want to get into the journey, totally.» And follows this with: «I can’t go anywhere.» Marco, as anyone who knew him knows, and anyone who didn’t knows from the photographs he made, was that kind of traveller, an adventurer who looked for thoughts and meetings in preference to places, and those he chose, those far from home, were often unwelcoming and annoying, places you pass through and transit; Underground says it all. Places where you find human beings with no distinctions drawn. This was the “material” that interested Marco, and the Trans-Siberian was no exception. People travel on these trains for work, to go and find friends and relations who live thousands of kilometres away. Travelling on these trains, where people eat, sleep and confide in strangers for days on end, is often uncomfortable, unpleasant. On these trains, too, developed the humanity of the Russian people, their soul, the soul Marco so wants to meet. In these photographs I recognize the Russia I encountered over ten years ago, and I recognize Marco, whom I met a few months after his Russian adventure, a little before he left on his final journey. In these images you can feel his desire for contact and relationships throb, despite the difficulties in communicating. Virtually every one of them is the outcome of an encounter, an attempt at dialogue and comprehension, both individual and mutual. There’s complicity in them, even though it bubbles up for just a few seconds. Marco does not hide, sneaking his shots. His footsteps and movements aren’t silent – maybe his thoughts and his desire to understand are – but you can almost imagine his uproarious smile when he immortalizes the girl who shows off her breasts, and the sudden snap to immortalize the blonde girl who is selling chandeliers on the platform. Many of the things that are so loveable in Marco’s photography, and that ought to be sought in photography as a whole, are to be found here. These images are encounters before they’re talked about, splendid examples of sincere, honest photography that makes no claim to explain anything but simply tries to understand. Passengers are advised that this where the world comes to an end, but do not listen to the message on the loudspeakers. Wake up out of your dreams, wake out of your journey to start another. There will always be another train. When you get down to it the destination is not important. «The traveller is the journey» as Fernando Pesso said. «What we see is not what we see but who we are.» A journey is our time and photography at bottom is nothing else than a way of capturing time and space in unison. Ghosts and memory saved forever by the light. Marco knew that well.
curated by Davide Monteleone