Anche un numero
Erri De Luca
Danilo De Marco è un fotografo che va ancora a pellicola, in bianconero, poi sviluppa e stampa nella camera oscura alla luce di una lampadina rossa. Dice che il digitale gli cancella la grana dall’immagine.
Il numero di schedatura di un campo di concentramento non ha niente di superficiale. Affonda il suo motivo come un ancoraggio sul fondale. Chi le chiede cosa sia quel tatuaggio, impara dalla risposta a riconoscere subito chi ha di fronte.
A number too
Among the enlarged portraits in the hall, she wrote, she felt at home, like a granddaughter visiting. She researched them and her grandfather, who had been a prisoner in the Dachau prison camp. She thought long and hard about it, and then decided she wanted to do something that I consider religious, in the literal sense of the word, a knot-like act. She had her grandfather’s prisoner number tattooed on her arm inside a downward-pointing triangle, like the ones sewn on the camp uniforms to identify the different groups of prisoners.
“When I look at that number on my skin and then see my eyes reflected in the mirror, it feels like my grandfather is with me. I’m proud of it, as if I were carrying a weight and a medal at the same time.”
That’s what a person does when they want to become a part of a story that came before they did: they bear the weight and manifest it proudly. She wanted to state that she was the heir of a history, an inheritance that was more long-lived than any deed. Tattoos were worn by prisoners and sailors to make them tougher. Today it is a widespread expression of ones desire to wear their uniqueness superficially. Skin is a blank page for an indelible illustration.
I have met some of those faces, immortalized just in time by Danilo. I don’t have tattoos on my skin, but on my palm, I have the signs left after shaking the hands of those who have taken up arms to fight oppression and dictatorship.
My history was made by hands.
From the young woman’s letter, I have learned that a number too can be left, to be exhibited proudly.
©Matilda Colarossi 2019
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