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The irresistible charm of empty cities

Seven photographers from around the world have portrayed their city during the lockdown

The irresistible charm of empty cities
Seven photographers from around the world have portrayed their city during the lockdown
The irresistible charm of empty cities Seven photographers from around the world have portrayed their city during the lockdown

During these lockdown weeks, the home has become a shelter, a shield, a safe haven, the protected place par excellence where to hide from the world. Trapped between the familiar home walls the look wanders, always driven by a constant desire for escape. 

Scattered all over the world, photographers and creatives have found themselves alone with their cameras, with not many alternatives but pointing the camera towards the outside, that scary 'out' that has become the world affected by the pandemic. They've witnessed their city become empty, left alone at the mercy of the changing of seasons; to desolation, fascinating and melancholic, has taken over a shy return to life, made of bodies working out, faces covered with masks trying to interact with others, long-awaited encounters, solitary walks under the rain. 

nss magazine asked seven photographers from around the world to portray their city from their window and through their lens. 


Takis Zontiros
London, United Kingdom


"Lockdown is still in place in London, but Spring is here and the weather is getting warmer. My neighbourhood’s very quiet and people only go out to do mundane, daily tasks which seem vital these days. There’s a weird contrast between the desire to get out and the fear to leave the house
My girlfriend says I’m turning into a cat, as I tend to look out of the windows much more. From my window, I can see the London skyline which provides me with a peculiar sense of optimism, as well as the parking lots and warehouses behind my house which ground me back to the reality of lockdown." 


Tommaso Mariniello
Milan, Italy 

"The quietness have an odd effect on the city: what’s left suddenly becomes louder and more intense. You start to see details that you didn't notice before, and what remains unchanged over time becomes familiar and you tend to attribute a story and a personality to it. This is what happened, for example, with a car, in particular, parked right under my house.
Looking outside the balcony in the past few weeks has been like looking into a camera lens. By focusing on a particular point of view, you can notice the changes over the course of the day, or get closer or further away to create new perspectives. Paradoxically, what you can see, even if outside your home, is at your complete disposal." 

Chris Danforth 
Berlin, Germany

"It really seems like the life has been sucked out of the city. The U-Bahn right now seems so dystopian, it kind of freaks me out. The stations are empty, and there are typically only 1-2 people in each car. 
I've definitely been looking more outside of the window than what I was used to. I’ve also planted some flowers in my window, and it’s been nice to watch them grow into seedlings. I have also “got to know” my neighbours with an occasional wave." 


Fabien Montique
Normandy, France

"This home usually is for weekends and holidays; I am discovering a future; what living here full time would be like. It's a slower pace of living with neighbours far away. I have noticed a shift towards more compassion, more neighbours checking in on each other on their daily walks.
I am spending more time looking out of the windows, watching nature in action, the horses the cows, looking for people, watching my pets." 

Ämr Ezzeldinn
Marsa Alam, Egypt  

"Egypt’s most iconic red seas beaches in which many Italians would be spending their holidays, are now deserted and serving as a quarantine buffer. I've decided to return from Europe to my home town to document my quarantine buffer."

Gabrielle Kannemeyer
Cape Town, South Africa

Nina Khutsishvili
Tbilisi, Georgia 

"Tbilisi has definitely changed. It has never been as quiet, as clean and empty as it has been for the last few weeks. Seeing these empty streets and other places that used to be crowded would make everyone sad, but it's pleasant too. Usually, traffic is extremely high here and now that there are only a few cars on the streets, it's much easier to see what is this city about really, how beautiful and complex its architecture is. Sometimes it feels like the city became more generous to the people who live there. 
Sometimes if I spend much time online, looking of my window feels very strange, because I have thoughts like 'Yes, this world is real and it exists right next to me'. I sure spend more time looking at my window, but not as much as I wish."