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The Roman Quarantine - By Sarah Barker


Hi everybody! As I said on the stories, I’m sharing with you an excerpt of a thesis written by Sarah Barker (Master of Science in Cultural Anthropology - Utrecht University) which contains some thoughts and photos I tried to explain in the book Hold your breath.


I talked a lot with Sarah during the quarantine, I couldn’t imagine that some of our chats would become part of her thesis. When I read it I got surprised and amazed about how clearly she explained the concepts and the thoughts I had in my confused mind at that time.


Thank you Sarah for this amazing work :)


The Roman Quarantine

Intimate uncertainties, narratives of emergency and creative freedoms as examined through the lived experience of the Italian COVID-19 lockdown


Utrecht University

Sarah Barker

Student Number: 6243363

Supervisor: Roos de Wildt

Wordcount: 20,804


A thesis submitted to the Board of Examiners in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science in Cultural Anthropology: Sustainable Citizenship

Chapter: Phase three

Paragraph: Hold your breath



I found an intriguing example that tied the presented conceptual topics of state control and uncertainty within these contextual COVID-19 circumstances to a particular interpretation of individual creative freedom in the memory book Hold your breath by Jacopo Rufo. Rufo, who had found himself in Roman lockdown at his girlfriend’s apartment away from his normal routine, work and family was used to a certain freedom of movement across borders in order to do his job. As he began to face the reality of no income, he realised he needed to find a way to create some form of work in this moment and so he created what became a unique and fitting visual interpretation of his intimate experience in lockdown.

The book collates a personal insight as recorded in short diary-style narratives and photos taken within 500 meters of the apartment he was in – mostly from the terrace and roof. This book became Rufo’s saving grace, as people were able to pre-order it before its completion and therein provide him with the money he needed to survive the lockdown. When I contacted him with regards to my research, he told me that:

sharing thoughts, photos, ideas are important if you are alone and it has been my only income, I actually survived thanks to the book.

In the end the book sold out and has been posted worldwide sharing an insight into how lockdown felt and looked in Rome.