Emma carries herself with a shy sweetness and vitality that is contagious. She prefers to dwell “behind the curtain,” her camera the veil between her and those whom she observes, and although she often seeks this vantage point to know others and also to hide, she still has become very close with the IMPERO Team. She cites the kindness and inviting nature of Dr. Sebastiani, whom she worked with for her first film of the Alberese Project for a university exam, as the catalyst for her comfort on our site, but Emma’s humor, curiosity, and bright demeanor draw her firmly into our community despite her separation from us in labor.
Although she does not work alongside us in the trenches, the twenty-seven-year-old videographer’s interest in the structures, artifacts, and people of the past is evident whenever she peeks over to view plans, paperwork, and different finds even when the camera is away, she attentively listens to the teachings of our directors, specialists, and students’ questions, and through her past studies. Originally an Architecture major at the University of Florence, Emma explored her plethora of passions and desires in the following years, leaving for England to work and determine the direction of her life. Searching her mind, she found herself drawn to photography and to the Alps-shadowed city of Turin to study that art at the Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arti Torino.
First enamored with the power of photography, film soon caught the eye of this constant observer. Her passion increased the more she shot, and as she began to take directing classes and other courses to explore the craft, her preference for film grew. Emma’s favor for film stems largely from the art form’s ability to capture a scene in real time, making it “easier to describe a moment,” as opposed to the need in photography to apprehend all action within the perfect image frozen in time—a difficulty which our videographer found to be less present in her preferred subject matter, landscapes, to photograph. Beyond the ease that perpetual natural formations provide, Emma is deterred from photographing people since, according to her, the action of capturing and keeping these intimate, momentary memories makes her feel as though she is invading the privacy of others and stealing some part of them and their story. Although it was also difficult at first to shoot others while their curious eyes were always conscious of her and their own behavior, Emma does not feel as though she is stealing from her subjects in the same way while filming; able to speak for themselves, those in front of her lens fall comfortably into her compositions that she loves to direct and edit together. This vibrant young woman had to achieve this level of comfort in film all on her own, thrown into documenting the Alberese Project with no prior physical filming experience and only the knowledge of film theory and history from her university courses, but now, with increased confidence and comfort, an eye for the big picture, and the drive to meld as many of her passions into one, as she does best, Emma hopes to hold the position of photography director on larger films and projects.
Even though Emma is full of so many interests which she must navigate, documentaries hold a special place in her heart to watch and create. Just as the assignment behind her work with the Alberese Project asked Emma “to describe a reality in [her] country,” she is drawn to expositions of real experiences and sees making documentaries as her way to help the world “by show[ing] different realities and different backgrounds” to other people. Her work with Dr. Sebastiani at Alberese was even grounded first in the human connection, as a photographer who had previously captured the Alberese Team pointed Emma in their direction due to the team’s kindness. The work that they did deeply peaked Emma’s interest, but surrounded by desert in a setting, unlike the one that the IMPERO Team enjoys, the humanity of the team who made her feel at home was the most crucial aspect for the videographer. She was able to capture their humor and vitality, and those are the moments she is most fond of while she films—“the funny moments, the moments when nobody knows that [she’s] there or they don’t care about [her],” the moments where her subjects’ human nature is the least filtered. Through her special task in every context that she films, Emma is not only fascinated by and able to capture that humanity, but has the opportunity to vicariously experience the passions and work of all of those around her.
The curious lover of music, nature, and reading—she wishes that she read more—adores watching and studying others to “know these kind[s] of worlds that are very far from [her].” Side by side with archaeologists, who “have to touch the ground…touch the soil, remove everything to discover something that you don’t know exactly where it is,” Emma can feel our passion, but she states that many Italians are unfortunately disinterested in the rich history beneath their soil. In an effort to expose our work to those who live in her country, Emma told me: “As you discover things from the ground, I try to discover your reality” and show it to the world. Hidden behind her lens, yet laughing with us under the sun, this exposure of life in its purest forms is Emma’s gift to both our tight-knit IMPERO family and to the global community.
Text by: Elisabeth Woldeyohannes
Photo by: Alessandro Sebastiani