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Pathological consumption and climate change in one photo

Claudia Manzo’s picture of two shoppers, tourists in Venice, Italy, during the high tide floods in late autumn 2018.

Initially I was in awe as my eye was moving over the picture’s pixels. Then it was fear. It looked like a Pasolinian alienation, madness, rejoicing at the universal collapse. Climate change is hitting hard, yet shopping for artificially bloated and useless brands supersedes the utter instinct of conservation.

Claudia Manzo, the photographer, toned me down. “I’m afraid of tourists on average. In the sense that, beyond the consumerism / capitalism are usually so taken by the desire to photograph, make videos, selfies etc … that they do not understand where they are going, nor what they are watching, much less what they are experiencing. This was certainly one of those cases. If you allow me, the connection high water / disaster / catastrophe, in the face of subsequent events on our mountains and on those of Friuli (the superstorms that destroyed hundreds of hectares of forests), I would treat it very subtly. Because if it is true that high water in Venice causes problems and this is undoubtedly so, it is equally true that it is not a sudden phenomenon nor unmonitored. It was at least ten days before that the forecasts had alerted the population and the warning sirens were regularly ringed early in the morning.”

“I was in Piazzetta San Marco, not the actual square but the part in front of the San Marco basin, I was observing the tide that would stop shortly thereafter, the sirocco wind was quite strong, nature was showing some of its potential. You can view other photos on the initial Facebook post from which the world has extracted the symbol photo. There are about twenty. All made between the sestiere (borough) of Dorsoduro and San Marco.”

So there is no connection with climate change? One has to wonder.

“Links with climate change yes, I was doing it because I was thinking about the outside temperature during this event. It was really hot. That is, do not think of a summer temperature, for heaven’s sake. But anyway I was wearing only a light pullover and a rain jacket. Not winter clothing. In this connection, I remembered other situations with high water that were much harsher temperatures. I’m not an expert on global warming, I can tell you that the phenomenon of high water is not solely related to this. Rather a combination of tide, moon, sirocco… so I would not point the finger at climate change as the triggering cause of the phenomenon. However, I would do so as it comes to the strangeness of the high temperature during the high tide.”

Not referred exclusively to Louis Vuitton but to general consumerism, Claudia thinks her photo would make a good illustration for George Monbiot’s article on pathological consumption, The Gift of Death. However, “I do not currently have climatic changes in my photo graphic portfolio. I only have images of the 2012 earthquake in Emilia (a cause that brought me to Venice) and that I consider not… terrestrial but caused by man. Unfortunately I have no proof of this, I have no irrefutable proofs at all.”

Claudia Manzo, photographer

Who is she?

“I am Claudia Manzo, 47, a professional photographer. I live for and thanks to photography, which for me is a language, the one I prefer to communicate with the rest of the planet. For about three years I have been experimenting with a particular technique, that of multi-exposure, because I am sure that a single image (even if what happened on Facebook is denying me) is no longer enough to document an instant of today’s life. We receive so many inputs every second so that, in order to convey the chaos that surrounds us, I think it is necessary to use two or more images to reconstruct reality.”


Raul Cazan



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