MOOSE JAWIAN

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I was born and raised in a little town in the North of Italy, on the shores of Lake Iseo, where the sun shines almost all year long and days go by peacefully day by day. However, when I was 16 years old I decided to move abroad for one year as an exchange student. A family in Canada decided to host me, so I ended up in another small town, but completely different from mine. The town was called Moose Jaw, located in Saskatchewan, where the winters last forever and the snow covers the ground for at least six months a year. The year I was there, temperatures remained as low as -50°C for at least a month, and for the rest of the winter the warmer it ever got was around -20°C.

I was shocked and wondered how could people live in such a place, since almost all human activity froze as the weather did.

When I had arrived in August, it had been warm enough for people to go outside and do their errands as in any other city, but by the end of October the place had turned into a ghost town. Inside the buildings, life went on, secluded and hidden, but outside it seemed as no one had ever live in that place.

When I was 21, I decided to go back to Moose Jaw and visit the family who had hosted me. Once I got there, I found out that nearly nothing had changed, except for the fact that the town looked even more ghostly than the last time I saw it. The buildings where all the same, nothing new had been built or happened, and yet the feeling of isolation was stronger than ever.

I asked to my host parents why the town seemed even emptier, and they replied that it was actually becoming a ghost town, as it was happening all across the province. Young people no longer want to live there, they prefer more confortable and warmer cities, so they move out, houses remain empty and stores close because of the lack of clients. In a few years, only a few old people will be left living in Moose Jaw, and this is happening at an incredibly high speed.

I found a town not only frozen by weather, but frozen in time too. Frozen in a limbo between being still inhabited and having to surrender to decay, to be overcome by nature. I decided to document this state, so one day I walked outside at -20°C to shoot these pictures.

I portrayed the buildings that had been abandoned: the first time I was there they had acted as a refuge against the weather, and now they blended in seamlessly with it. I also encountered wild animals I hadn’t seen before, thriving in the soon-to-be-deserted town.