SOGNO by Alina Trifan

Ten years ago, when Alina and her family emigrated to Italy, Moldovan citizens could hardly travel anywhere without a visa. People would not visit other countries, let alone have regular holidays. Visa requirements changed in 2014, and again in May 2018, allowing Moldovans to travel freely.

“Sogno” [“Dream”] explores this newfound freedom by documenting the experience of Alina’s grandfather during his first visit to Italy. The pictures vividly capture the nature of the old man’s childlike relationship with the new place. The light blue helps to convey a sense of serenity, innocence, and purity. But also one of melancholy.
We interviewed Alina to find out more about “Sogno” and her approach to photography.

“Sogno” is a very personal portfolio. How did it come about and why did you decide to tell the story of your grandfather?
“Sogno” is a project that was born spontaneously. I felt that my grandfather’s travel was an important moment both for him and for my family. I tend to show affection through gestures, so I thought immediately to document our days spent together. The project itself took shape after my grandfather went back to Moldova. 

LONGITŪDINĒS wants to cross borders and promote art and literature from all across Europe. The history of your grandfather is the history of those borders and, somehow, the history of their removal. What does “Sogno” tell us about Europe?
My grandfather, like many of his fellow citizens, had never crossed the Moldovan borders. Five years ago, the European Union allowed Moldovan citizens to travel within its own borders without the need for a visa. Thanks to the new freedom, my grandfather was able to make his dream come true and visit places that he had never thought he would have seen. He was finally able to observe the mountain with astonishment and trepidation and swim in the sea.

Monte Grappa Military Sacrarium monument.

What do you look for in a picture?
Sometimes, in the moment right before taking a photograph, I feel like I know exactly that it’s going to be a beautiful picture, as if that very moment exists to be framed. It is a wonderful sensation, but it doesn’t happen very often. Usually, it is all about seeing the road that takes me home under a new light.

Grandpa tasting the local grappa, a type of grape-based brandy.

Do you look for the extraordinary in the ordinary?
I think that you have a point, I do look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. At the same time, it is not something I think about when I am taking a photograph. I mostly let my “instincts” guide me.

In your photos, colour is what stands out and draws attention, sometimes becoming the true subject. In “Sogno” it is the light blue, in other photographs it is the red. Is this accidental or is there a reason behind it?
I am very fond of colours. Blue is the colour of my grandfather’s eyes. I like to think he sees the world this way. Red is a colour that never goes unnoticed, and I want to give it all the attention that it deserves.

Buying candles for Saint Anthony’s tomb in Padua.

Which artists or photographers do you look up to? Which artists are an inspiration to you?
There are many photographers that I admire, and I have learnt something from each one of them. The photographer that has changed me the most is Nguan. Before seeing his artworks I didn’t think that colour itself could become the subject of a photo. I like Lina Scheynius’s use of light and the sensitivity of her self-portraits. From Noah Kalina, a very prolific photographer, I learned that taking photographs is an exercise.

Rialto Bridge in Venice

What are you working on at the moment? What are your future projects?
At the moment I am going through a phase of transition in my personal life. I am not actively working on any photographic project, but I feel the need for a more mature photography. I think I would like to be more proactive, and give a clear direction to my photography, rather than let circumstances guide my work.

Grandpa at Bassano del Grappa, famous for their ceramic production.
About the contributor

Alina Trifan is a Moldovan self-taught photographer raised in Padua, Italy, where she currently lives. She started taking photographs at fourteen with a small compact camera. She attended the University of Padua where she graduated in Foreign Languages and Cultures. Her photography is characterised by the use of light colours and a focus on everyday objects.
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