The Hidden Columns

Via dell'Orso 92, Roma
Via di Santa Bonosa, 22, 00153 RomaVia dell'Orso, 87, 00186 Roma Via della Fonte D'Olio, 8, 00153 Roma - Via del Pellegrino, 89, 00186 Roma - Via di Santa Bonosa, 22, 00153 RomaVia della Paglia, 50, 00153 Roma - Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 15-19Piazza della Bocca della VeritŠ°, 18, 00186 RomaViale Adamo Mickievicz, 00187 RomaPiazza di S. Caterina della Rota, 91, 00186 RomaVia di S. Anna, 6, 00186 RomaVia della Lungaretta, 8, 00153 Roma Vicolo Savelli, 30, 00186 RomaVicolo Savelli, 30, 00186 RomaVia di S. Pantaleo, 61, 00186 RomaArco della Pace, 12, 00186 RomaVia di Santa Maria in Monticelli, 61, RomaVicolo dell'Arco di Santa Margherita, Roma
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The Hidden Columns of Rome

A collaboration with Selena Anders


2018 - 2020, ongoing

photography, black and white negative film


When I settled in Rome I was strongly attracted by the richly ornamented walls inside the Historical city. They are so captivating with all the details and spolia, immersive diversity of embedded ancient remnants, inscriptions, cornices, capitals and columns, decaying unrestored frescoes and small statues, Madonnellas and empty frames of catholic plaques. These pieces of Antiquity and Middle Ages aren’t marked by any sign, many of them remain unnoticed by local people and are unfamiliar even to historians.


I decided to focus my work on the columns, because of their active presence on the ground level, closeness to people and active interaction with the street life. The columns which mark out the enduring in culture find themselves in the flow of fast-moving changes. Furthermore, I thought that their intriguing diversity in size, style and preservation state deserves to be visually documented. For centuries, ancient columns had been taken out from their original locations and as free enduring structures were incorporated in later buildings. Nowadays, their inconspicuousness in a city that is an open-air museum puts them between posters, signs, vehicles and even garbage bags. They are surrounded by contemporary building materials, doors and windows with contemporary design. Their presence as anonymous, timeless and silent witnesses of history creates an urban expression of the way the past survives and indetectably infiltrates the present world.


Purposefully walking all the streets in the historical town enclosed by the Aurelian Walls in 2018, I found some sixty locations with high density in Sant’ Angelo (the Jewish ghetto), Regola, Ponte, Parione and Trastevere areas. I marked these locations on a map and kept visiting them, capturing their appearance in different light and changing flow of urban life. As it is time and not transparency to be considered the main subject of black and white photography, I decided to use black and white film to reveal the distant origin and timelessness of the columns. It let me depict the urban context without overemphasising on its momentary states or bringing in too much distracting visual noise. I approached the columns in an old-fashioned documentary manner, using 35-mm camera to express my feeling about their unassuming and reticent participation in street life. In this way I could also create homage to the great masters of flâneurs photography and experience a significant broad layer in history of photography, just as the columns were revealing such layer of history.


In 2019, after an year of work, I had the luck to be kindly advised by Prof. Hendrik Dey, to whom I owe my familiarity with the PhD Thesis of Prof. Selena Anders “Medieval Porticoes of Rome: New Methods and Technologies for Revealing Rome’s Architectural and Urban Heritage”. Her extensive research on the remnant columns, once used as spolia in medieval porticoes and later on closed by walls, shed new light on the locations marked on my map. By this common passion and sharing some urban customs, Selena and me came up with interesting ideas, which are about to be displayed and published.