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For this project, Marzio Emilio Villa followed the traces of his adoption. Thus, he recaptured his own history image by image.

Muted colours, with a light touch of sepia – for many decades this is what photographs of shared family memories looked like. But what if those memories and the pictures connected to them are not real? What if the people that might have made up a particular family, never actually knew each other – as in the case of the photographer, Marzio Emilio Villa?
Villa was three months old when he was adopted from Brazil by his Italian parents. He never knew his biological parents. He never tried to know who they were. Even so, it would seem as though he wanted to use photography to give form to this empty hole in his past, and so to create his own story. “For adopted children like myself and my brother, it is extremely important to establish family memories. The first part of your life, which you can only know about based on whatever your parents tell you, is simply non-existent. For me it’s a riddle, that I’ll never be able to solve,” Villa says.
He was already in his early thirties by the time he finally returned to the place where he and his brother were born: Curitiba, a Brazilian city with a population of millions. Villa found it was a place where people looked like him, and spoke to him in Portuguese – a language that he did not master. Though to some degree Villa had gone in search of home, he soon realised that he would not find it there. Even so, he went looking for clues, both for himself and for his brother, who had been adopted a couple of years later when he was already five years old.
In addition to Brazil, Villa took photographs in Italy as well as Paris; however the pictures are also devoid of people who might give meaning to whatever is happening in the various locations. The primary school in northern Italy disappears into the mist , the mother’s garden is inhabited only by clay birds, and two empty chairs stand at the restaurant table where the photographer met his mother after returning from Brazil. It is as though the lives of the protagonists have gone missing.

Text: Denise Klink
All images on this page: © Marzio Emilio Villa
Equipment: Leica S006 with Summarit-S 35 f/2.5 Asph and Leica M240 with Elmarit-M 28 f/2.8 Asph and Summicron-M 50 f/2

You can find the whole text and portfolio in LFI Magazine 01.2020
© Nicola Bertasi

Marzio Emilio Villa

Born in Brazil in 1987, Villa was adopted when he was three months old and grew up in Italy. After studying art in Milan, he moved to Paris when he was 23 years old. Influenced by his own story, Villa deals mainly with subjects such as identity, social structures and discrimination. Villa has been a member of the Hans Lucas Agency since February 2017. He lives and works in Paris.

Hans Lucas Website
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