Point-and-shooters are concerned only with content. Vittoria’s images, by contrast, were about the all the hidden meanings in the observable world, and about what lurked deep in her subconscious. Hers was a secret language, perfect for a girl enmeshed in a culture that valued silence and secrecy.
The most literal of Vittoria’s photographs was deceptively simple. It showed a hand covering a wide-eyed woman’s mouth. You didn’t know if it was her hand, or the hand of her lord and master, her oppressor. She made one of herself sitting in the foreground, while the curving snake of railroad tracks disappeared into the distance, heading for an unknown destination.
Another was her sitting at the base of a tree with its wide spread of exposed tangled roots, like writhing snakes, threatening to rise up, entwine her, hold her forever captive. In creating these images, she’d put the camera on a tripod, composed the scene, then set the timer.
One day near the river, under that same tree, Vittoria and Jack talked about religion. No, she never went to church in Italy, and neither did her parents. But she believed in God. Jack said that reminded him of Spinoza. That calm and kind philosopher believed God reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, he’s not a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.
“Yes,” Vittoria said. “That’s how I see him.”