Stefania Zanetti writes an open letter to her sister before she joined the Air Force

Stefania Zanetti My Sister Is An Hurricane C41 Magazine 18

This is an unpublished project premiered today on C41 Magazine.

Stefania Zanetti was born in Trento, Italy. She studied Design, specializing with a Master in Eco-social Design at the Free University of Bolzano, willing to combine her passion for projects with that of psychology. Today she lives Milano, working as a photographer freelance, teaching Photography for Design at NABA, and collaborating with different magazines, also as an Editor. She develops various personal projects mostly characterised by the research on human behaviour and emotions. “Eating Emotions” will be soon published as therapy support together with Infes: Forum Prevenzione in Bolzano. The set of photographic recipes aim to help who suffer from Eating Disorders, supporting self-awareness and pleasure.

About ‘My Sister is a Hurricane’ – words by Stefania Zanetti:

It was June 2018, I was filing my Master thesis (not without strains) when my phone rang. Picking up I heard the voice of my sister, thrilled to announce to me she decided to enlist in the air force. To be completely honest, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic. Her will scared me, how come I didn’t expect that? A number of questions raised into my mind overlapping one on the other. We have always been different, but what made us wishing to breath such different air? Then was when the stream of my consciousness pushed me into an expedition for two, with opposite directions.

Dear Sara,

I guess I have finally got it. If I am a sea you’re a mountain. While my jagged shores made me a floating wanderer, your sharp slopes trained you to be a stiff explorer. Look at us, you are equipped with boots, I wear flip flops.

You climb high with confident steps, drawing outlines on the wide panorama. Discipline trained your detached focus. Now think about me, my strokes blend and oppose  to the ocean tides, I am enveloped into something while you lean on it. Signs painted in colours trace the direction of your path and you smartly follow them surely you just embrace the shortness of your breath and wipe the sweat away. And what about me?…I lose myself whenever the weather is foggy since the traces on the solid ground and the hints from the polar star fade away.

Your voracious bites to a sandwich and my spoonful of soup.

And yeah, we surely are different. I do look down to the abysses learning how to hold my breath, you appreciate the spikes adapting to cope with the rarefied oxygen. While your doubts crash down, mine are absorbed.  You are definitions and mailed letters whereas my doubts still leak from doggy-eared diaries. Your precious stability leaves an amount of space for you to care for those details and shades I can’t focus on; whatever you start doing, you overcome the obstacles; I got lost dragged by ‘mermaids’ calls. Whenever you know this is too much; I am wondering if it is enough.

Well, my precious half, my little woman “Novecento” projected into the air, I can’t hide being a little envious of your ability to grasp the unlimited possibilities embraced in the concept of definition, your will is rock solid.

So when you will fly, may you reflect yourself on my body of water, simply to realise that we are the same thing projected backward. And when you run through the path of your own future, don’t forget to have a look on the parallel trail, I’ll be running there in the opposite way. Time will come for another suspicious wink and a couple of ours very similar, wide-jaw toothy smiles, with no need for any extra complicit word.

See you soon and keep being my strongest thought,

Love you, now even more,


That was the first time I saw her completely committed to something, which was probably simply herself. Physical activity framed her day and a thousand sheets of paper filled her nights. Time for intense preparation, but also for a bunch of feelings perhaps never explored. A new sense of embracement, new perspectives made of flat landscapes in which she was able to control her sight. I followed her using my camera as a tool for rapid glimpses, I didn’t want to deconcentrate her. A series of shots created the base for our unprecedented clarifying dialogues while the sequence of instants was the trace for my realisations. Given the right opportunity, she blossomed.


Time to read
3 min
Words by
Published on
20 May 2020
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