video installation

5 short films 8-12 min each
HD video, stereo, color
supported by Cortona Visual Narratives Scholarship
exhibited in Fortezza del Girifalco, Giardini del Parterre, Palazzo Baldelli;  COVID Visual Project

Camera, Direction & Editing by Mo Scarpelli
Sound Recordings by Mo Scarpelli, Felix Blume
Production & Translation by Andrea Arena

Produced by Vessel and Rake Films

I SOGNI DI ROMA is an audiovisual installation which explores the resilience of imagination in the unpredictable times of the pandemic. In five short films, disembodied voices of Romans impart their dreams from during 50 days of strict quarantine.


By now, we all know what 'lockdown' means. But in March 2020, Italians were the first to experience a nationwide mandatory quarantine, of a mysterious disease we were sure at the time could kill us all. For Italians to shut into a home, to lose physical touch with the family, the communitá, the piazza, was devastating in ways we are still trying to understand. Even after COVID-19 spread elsewhere, the first Italian lockdown would prove the harshest, longest, and (I believe) most disorienting in all of Europe and the Americas throughout the pandemic.

During these initial horrifying 50 days and nights of lockdown, dreaming became a gift. To dream is to not only escape from confinement - it is to descend a portal into our innermost fears and desires. In the quiet of solitude, this portal became steeper, the churnings inside of us became louder, clearer. What could the dream, this "psychic clap of thunder, a vibration from the deep" (Norman Mailer) tell us about ourselves, about our world when we returned?

The Romans’ voices in these films provide an exercise in survival. The dreamers recorded their voices alone, shut into their house, in a similar position to when they dreamed, and sometimes right after a dream. They transmit the facts. I then slipped with my camera into the empty streets of Rome with these voices resounding in my head, seeking sounds and images which may act as tonal poems, dichotomies, or modes of absorptions for their dreams. The themes of each film/chapter are based on notions from Carl Jung's studies on dreams, imparted in his memoir Memories, Dreams, Reflections.  In the silence of quarantine, the current of past dreamers and consciousnesses could rush upon us swiftly. The life we live, and the one we have forgotten. The patterns of hopes and desires. The possession of a secret. Perhaps our dreams were our attempt to mend the rupture formed between ourselves and the outside world; dreams were a revolt against staticness, loneliness and uncertainty. Or perhaps they were a testing-ground for emotions we have been suppressing for nights, for years, for centuries.

When the heavy lockdown measures in Rome loosened, the dreamers kept sending me material. But their voices had lost something. The finger to the pulse of a vein sliced clean by the dream — it was gone. We were safe again. Waking life returned, the dream faded into an afterthought. For this I SOGNI DI ROMA may serve as a historical document of a phenomena we may never find again.

I SOGNI DI ROMA is a poetic tribute, a compass of human notions, a historical record of the psyche, a chance to glimpse the vital participation of the human being in their own imagination, in order to survive.

Using Format