I lived in Rome, and I was penniless, that moment. I heard there was an Eritrean refugee camp, close to my neighborhood. So I went there, every day, for a month, and spent all my days with these strong, brave people. After that I followed them during a very long trip till the northern border.

I wanted to show their courage, their dignity, their way of smiling and face the misery of leaving their country and loosing everything, their hope. My work was rejected by many magazines, because I didn’t show enough pain and this kind of pictures don’t SELL, that’s what I’ve been said. I was disgusted.

For much time, I felt guilty to follow these people, hoping to SELL the pictures I took them. I was poor, and I needed to eat and pay my rent, but I promised myself that I will never exploit people’s suffering or pain, to earn money, again.

After this project, I discovered wedding photography, and realized it was the thing I wanted to do. But as soon as I’ll be able to, I want to start a new project, and to go on showing these people’s strength, without the need to sell anything.

A long way to go. In Rome, only a break.

Arguing, polemics, complaints. And yet, hundreds of Eritrean migrants arrive at Baobab center, in Cupa street, Rome. They get a shelter, food and clothes, offered by neighborhood citizens. Volunteers work hard to offer acceptable conditions for people who don’t remember what acceptable conditions are. This people is running away from violence and hunger. And unfortunately, in Italy, many don’t know that they aren’t here to stop, they don’t want to settle here, aware that the situation in our country is not so good at the moment. Many don’t know or pretend not to know, pouring out their rage against their arrivals and against who’s helping them.

The real issue is that there is no demonstration, barricade or border closure working. Nor sea or desert. These people decided to leave, to abandon their home, to dismember their families, to go on living – living, not existing in inhuman conditions.

I’ve spent much time at Baobab center. Hundreds of stories and faces, many of them so young. The mildness and dignity of this people is disarming, while they try to tell their stories, if they mutter some English. They need to rest, to smile, to restore a tired and torn body. After travelling for months and risking their lives more than once, they have exhaustion, smile and gratitude. They have the hope to find a simple life, to fulfill a dream, wherever, no matter where.

One Saturday night I caught an Intercity train from Roma-Termini to Bolzano, with two young men and a 8 months pregnant woman, who has been captured and segregated in Libya for three months and was able to escape in the end. Her gaze claims silent respect.

Not even difficulties like this can stop them, even if many of them can’t escape dangers during their trip. Some boys have been texting me, updating me on their moves. Daniel, 21 years old, called from France. And he was laughing, joyfully.

Kidnappings, shipwrecks , C.I.E. (Identification and Expulsion Centers), barricades, insults, demonstrations, hatred and racism, borders closure, indifference and inability to manage the situation. But hope and will for a better life can’t be stopped by anything. Whether we accept it or not, migrants will keep on moving and try to reach better places to live in. Wasting energies against moving life is worthless. Once I’ve been told that Italians must help them because Italy, as a former colonizing country, caused a lot of troubles in Eritrea. But, no. We don’t have to help them to compensate guilt that probably don’t belong to us. It’s not about politics. It’s just because they are human beings. and, just like all human beings, they will keep on trying to find a better life, they will keep on moving.

Heart and Brain Harmony

Hi everybody!

It’s been a long time! More than a year, actually, without posting new stuff. But ideas need their incubation period, before they come out and spread! – And life need to be lived and experienced, to allow new ideas to be conceived. No input, no output, right?

So I’m planning to change layout of this wordpress and I’m working on tons of new stuff, photography and illustrations, that will – super soon, I hope – be posted.

Here’s the last of my works: a dear friend, mother of a marvellous 5 years old girl student of mine, asked me to paint a very small image she found on the web, because she wanted to make her psychologist studio. Of course I accepted, because I absolutely loved the illustration and it was perfectly in line with my idea of emotional and mindful balance and harmony. So she sent it to me on Whatsapp and I copied it in a 50 x 70 canvass. Here it is, I hope you’ll let me know if you like it.

You’ll read me soon! In the meanwhile, never stop learning! ;)




The Post Internazionale – La speranza di Atene

Hi everybody! Here‘s my pictures published yesterday on the italian website The Post Internazionale!

Take a look if you like!

Ciao a tutti! Il mio reportage su Atene post-elezioni è stato pubblicato ieri su The Post Internazionale!

Date un’occhiata se vi va!

Demostration in Athens, 31st January 2015

©Elena Mantovan

Internazionale (!!!)

Today has been a great day and I’m grateful and full of joy. It’s hard, here, but when I thought I’d lost all hopes, my work and my photographs of street art in Athens has been published on the website of the magazine Internazionale. Take a look here and hope you enjoy!


Oggi è stato un grande giorno e sono felicissima e piena di gratitudine, perché, quando ormai non ci speravo più, l’Internazionale mi ha contattata per pubblicare le mie foto sul sito! Date un’occhiata qui, spero vi piacciano! :)

Rosso Cinabro

Ciao a tutti! Hi everybody!

Good news: sono in mostra alla Galleria Rosso Cinabro fino a fine febbraio! Some of my paintings will be at Rosso Cinabro Gallery ’till the end of February!

Take a look and hope you enjoy!

«age», CollettivOCinetico al Teatro Vascello

Due anni fa abitavo a Ferrara. Un bel giorno si trasferì nel mio palazzo una coppia di ragazzi, il che già era un evento, dato che l’età media era, a parte il nostro appartamento studentesco, parecchio elevata. Il nome che scrissero sul campanello era un enigma: «Collettivo Cinetico», c’era scritto. Iniziarono a ristrutturare, sistemare, spostare, abbellire, erano gentili e cordiali, e avevano una bull terrier che mi si avvicinava docile, in cerca di coccole, ogni volta che ci si incontrava in cortile.

Un giorno me ne andai a far due passi in piazza Trento Trieste, e il Collettivo Cinetico si stava esibendo in «XD – vignette sfuse per uso topico», una performace urbana, con supereroi bendati, corpi seminudi in passamontagna, vignette di fumetti fuori dall’ordinario in giro per la città.

Dopo due anni, eccoli qui, a Roma, al Teatro Vascello, con <age>, uno spettacolo intitolato in omaggio a John Cage, e all’età degli attori.

Il palcoscenico è vuoto, buio. In silenzio, un oggetto per volta, si costruisce la scena, mano a mano che i nomi degli oggetti vengono proiettati sulla ribalta, fino all’arrivo dei nove «esemplari», i teenagers protagonisti della pièce, seduti su due panche al lato sinistro, in attesa di istruzioni. Parte l’Aria sulla quarta coda di Bach.

Gli esemplari conoscono le regole, ma le istruzioni da seguire sono diverse, ogni volta, quindi non si vede mai lo stesso spettacolo. Le istruzioni vengono proiettate e si succedono al suono di un gong. E gli adolescenti si esprimono, ognuno secondo la propria, singolare, personale modalità, a interpretare sé stessi, in tipologie umane, modelli di comportamento, formazioni collettive.

Sottile, divertente, arguto, magistrale.

Grazie a Francesca Pennini, Angelo Pedroni e al Collettivo Cinetico, che torneranno presto a Roma con il loro Amleto.

Opening “Doorway to identity” @Rossmut Gallery

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©Elena Mantovan

30 Oct 2014 – Brandon Boyd, il front man degli Incubus, all’inaugurazione della mostra “Dorway to Identity” presso la Rossmut Gallery di via dei Vascellari, 33.

Una fila lunghissima, e non ero in lista per entrare. Un post su Facebook visto di sfuggita, ho deciso all’ultimo momento di passare, senza sapere bene cosa e chi avrei trovato. Ma con un po’ di pazienza – e una macchina fotografica – si va dappertutto. Brandon gentile e cordiale, firma autografi, saluta i fan, si fa fotografare, esce meravigliato per dare un’occhiata a quanta gente è arrivata per vedere lui e i suoi acquerelli. Al suo fianco, incantevole, Baelyn Neff.

E così scopro anche Marco Pisanelli, o Seven Moods e la sua arte.

Fantastici, entrambi.