Alessandro Cinque

Freelance Photojournalist

Culture Shutdown: Portraits of Dissent

In Naples, Teatro Totò, as every theater throughout Italy, shut its doors on March 9, 2020. It reopened them for limited activities between June and October. Then, it closed them again as the the pandemic shook Italy with a second wave of infections. Sars-CoV-2 has been forcing us to spend as much time as possible in our homes shifting arts and culture from a social dimension to the loneliness of our electronic devices. For hundreds of thousands people working in theaters or events that has meant staying out of jobs for months. According to INPS, Italian social security institution, performing arts employ over 327,000 workers nationally; and the number doubles if we consider the whole cultural sector. Already strongly impacted by the first lockdown; the second insurgence of Covid-19 cases has taken an even bigger toll on the livelihood of the universe of professionals gravitating around concerts, performances, exhibitions, and screenings. In the main cities, they took the streets or organized flash mobs to make themselves seen. In certain contexts, this situation has added up to pre-existing issues triggering even more rage and discontent. In Campania, for example, Naples’ region, even before the pandemic, about 20 percent of the population between 15 and 74 year- old was unemployed. As for the actors, managers, technicians, costume designers of Teatro Totò, 2020 meant for about 13,000 people working in performing arts in Campania, long months of difficulties and uncertainties. But in the hometown of Pulcinella, Eduardo De Filippo, Totò, Troisi, etc culture is more than just an occupation. Often it also represents an opportunity for many youngsters to build a future far from the street, crime, and drug addiction. In order to reaffirm the importance of culture and its values, performers and technicians of Teatro Totò posed for me showing their dissent from the measures impacting those working in such a critical context.