Ludovica De Santis: Ostiamale

Born in Rome in 1991, Ludovica De Santis grew up in the outskirts of her hometown. When she turned 19 she left Italy for Paris to attend advanced courses on film theory at Sorbonne University. Back in Italy, Ludovica is now employed as photojournalist and video-editor in Milano. Ludovica’ s passion for photography has distant roots and in fact she still remembers “borrowing” her mum’s Polaroid Camera and take her first shot ever!
A dreamer on the one side (Venus is for Ludovica the place to be), she is well anchored to real life on the other: her last project “Ostiamale” originates from her relentless curiosity to gain insight into that fascinating part of Rome that she feels to be quite close to her artistic profile.

Your daily routine
I wake up early, I drink a lot of coffee because I need it to start my day. Then I start working on different commissions (photography, video-editing, etc). Sometimes I walk around the house just to feel that I am alive, lol.Then I’ll go back to work.

What was it like being a rising photographer in a social context like the one that made us discover with your project?
Nowadays it’s difficult to do what you like in any kind of social context but having said that, if you come from a specific social context where problems are more connected to exclusion from the prevailing social system, is much more difficult.

How would you describe your work ?
This is very difficult to me. I can’t really explain it. Let’s say I have a rough and raw gaze. I like reality for what it is. That does not mean there is not an abstract or fictional element in my artistic exploration, but it’s more connected to the context or to other elements than the subject. I feel very close to dark feelings, shady emotions. But I think that Ostiamale was my first attempt to do something different. The project was not just made for expressing myself but the universe I was exploring at that time, the people who were actually living there, their habits, their way of being who they were.

Favorite movie and why?
I don’t really have a favorite one. I have grown up with horrors, gore, fantasoviet, psychological thriller and animation so there’s a lot of stuff that I like.

What does “OSTIAMALE” mean to you and what do you want it means to others?
Ostiamale means a lot to me. I feel really close to the people from Ostia. I have grown up in a village in the so-called province of Lazio. As my native village which is pretty much excluded from the rest of the region, Ostia is a part of Rome totally isolated from the city. People live in a different way and it’s more like a small village where fishing has become one of the most common hobby. Ostia’s areas are not divided based on where different social classes live. They are rather fused all together. Since Ostia has been built by the water, people have very much connected to the presence of this natural element. I have decided to explore all this because I have understood that it represented a new roman neighborhood, a new auto generated micro-universe with a different structure, aspects, habits. I am very intrigued by the process of communities’ isolation and how it affects inhabitants. I like questioning myself about the reasons that have caused this kind of mechanism.

One thing people would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m a complainer

Where do you feel the happiest?
I feel the happiest when I am surrounded with the people I love.

Do you have a strong connection to this world?
I don’t connect to anything but to humans. So I am just working on it. I guess I need to feel the earth a little much more.

What was the thing that made you happiest to have done this project? 
I was so happy to see how people got involved in the project. I was prepared to face any kind of reaction. When you are a photographer, I think you just get used to taking your chance. You know that other people can feel uncomfortable in front of the camera or perceived your exploration as an invasion of privacy or misunderstand your purpose, thinking it as an exploitation of the community. But Ostia inhabitants were so excited about the project and give me a lot of support. Of course I had to face some problems with the Ostia mafia, I had to pay specific attention when I have tried to explore some parts of the neighborhood more linked to the local crime.
Fortunately there have always been locals willing to give me support and to help me carrying on this amazing adventure.

Your advice to someone who is reading this and wants to be a photographer?
Find your own gaze and don’t compromise too much!

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