This is an unpublished project premiered today on C41 Magazine.
Ludovica De Santis (aka Kamisalak) was born in Rome on May 13th 1991. She spent her childhood in a village near Rome. At the age of 13 she moved to the city. At the age of 19 she left the country to attend Film theory courses at the University in Paris. She is currently working as photographer and video editor in Milan.
About ‘The pandemic Book of Vampires’ – words by Ludovica De Santis:
Vampires are creatures that subsist by feeding themselves with the blood of the living. These creatures are undead. From the historical folklore tradition we assume vampires can be revenants of evil beings, suicide victims, or witches, but they can also be created by a malevolent spirit possessing a corpse or by getting bitten by another vampire. Most likely, the belief in vampires it’s a result from the pre-industrial society’s attempt to explain the “inexplicable” process of death and decomposition.
It all began with people who suspected vampirism when a cadaver did not look as they thought when exhumed: Nails, hair and teeth kept growing, the blood was often seen seeping from the mouth or nose cavities, and when the left eye was often open. Last but not least, the skin was dark in color. Its entity, as known today, originates almost exclusively from the early 18th-century southeastern European verbal traditions while, as a matter of fact, South East Europe has always been geographically an area of multiethnic groups, coexisting together. Homosexual undertones have always been part of the vampire’s profile. Their hunting is not sexually oriented and the blood-sucking feeding was often associated to a sexual perverse nature. This sexual ambiguity points to contemporary anxieties about transgressive sexuality, the onset of the twentieth century. Vampirism caused mass hysteria for centuries and culminated with public execution of people believing to be vampires. It is interesting to analyze how vampires have been used in verbal traditions and modern gothic novel to explain the social fears that plague any given age. As it always happen when it comes down to what we thought to be “different”, the masses transform their hatred for the unknown into a hatred for vampires. Thus, through them, masses are able to act on their fear of transgressive sexuality and ethnic others. The vampire is indeed a foreigner, it has a different aspect and he is not really sexually defined.
“MY COUSINS ARE VAMPIRES”
Since the lockdown time has begun, my cousins have started acting differently.
When they were first told that their lives were about to become much more restricted than usual, with weeks of potential boredom, confined within their homes stretching ahead of them, they have started exploring a new way of spending time, exploring new imaginative horizons that helped them to face their time of isolation. As a matter of fact, they were developing crucial psychological and emotional capacities through imagination, which helped them understand the “strange” world they are living in and how they relate to it. Therefore in an hardworking village of the Italian countryside, they developed an attitude that led them pretending to be vampires.
They started creating visual images in the mind’s eye which allowed them to explore all sorts of images and ideas without being constrained by the limits of the physical world.
Imaginative interacts allowed them to explore both the physical world and the inner self simultaneously, helping them recognizing their own emotional responses to things.
This game has led them to express their sense of freedom related to both, their young age and the pandemic restricted life, helping them identifying new fluid and undefined sexuality instincts.
I have decided to capture their new imaginative coexistence, not only because fascinated by the importance of the new relation they were building with this unexperienced and uncomfortable way of living, but also because their unconscious creative role-play of being vampires, well known as monsters, blood-suckers, undead beings or damned creatures, was for me an amazing metaphor of feeling “isolated, excluded and discriminated” from the society.
They have indeed identified themselves as beings “different in a very negative way”, hardly accepted by the society we live in and persecuted for centuries because of their hypothetical “different” nature.