Selfie Attendance

by Niko Devera of FIU in Pompeii, Italy

Fuck you. Fuck you for your absence of an infinitesimal amount of any sort of sentiment. How do you have the face to strip away the remaining humanity petrified in a concrete cast of a face confronted by their final moments of mortality? Was the pure terror of their imminent death entertaining enough for you to find the need to place yourself next to it? Hey look, I was here. I saw them. I know, see? Maybe it’s a melodramatic overreaction I’ve been prone to one too many times in the past, but I have an issue with your decision to photograph yourself in front of their casts of men, women, children, people buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash that were forcibly frozen in time to become a spectacle for the world in their least idealized, most raw and vulnerable state. Seeing their broken bodies is what manifested an authentic connection to my modern humanity with that of 2,000 years before me. I saw them and I was amazed just as you were, yet I chose to respect them. Seeing my floating head with their concrete corpse in the same frame distances us miles more than it does connect us. Inevitably, there will be thousands more of you, shitting on their illusive opportunity to receive any sort of funeral. I couldn’t come close to destroying enough selfie sticks to be able to make you feel something rather than fabricating a sense of connection. All that I ask of you is that once you’re done taking your emotionless selfie, feel something instead of blankly looking at it.

Il Fotografo

Il Fotografo

by Niko Devera of FIU in Rome, Italy

Rome, you are spectacular. You’re a chaotic fusion of an ancient past in a modern world. The effortless host of an entire world religion, with an ornate exploitation of its beauty and atrocities. You’re a myriad of cigarette butts accumulating on cold wet paved streets, in a city lined with pedestrians crossing congested roads at times that would kill them anywhere else. You’re the unbearable and inexplicable smell of human feces on a metro train, the constant rejection faced by impoverished illegal street vendors, the arena where bodies were once viciously mutilated in the exchange of an uproar cast by a crowd of 80,000. You are a city full of life that is conscious of the death of its past. The source of my numerous facile dissociations with reality, and my muse. I chose to photograph you in a raw and unidealized way so that I may never forget you. Where my words falter and have been barricaded, my photographs communicate to and about you. I photograph you so that my laughably deficient memory has the visual aid of my unhindered perspective of you and your people in the years and decades ahead where I look back on my time with you in reminiscent nostalgia. But you are incredibly overwhelming. I constantly find myself in necessary moments of motionless awe where all I choose to do is look at you, so that I may only have that single solitary moment with you for the rest of my mortal life, rather than an attempted preservation of the emotion I felt in that time for you. But at times, to be frank, you’re a bitch. Your beauty is double-sided; I fear it’s familiarity which raises the question of my possible subconscious blindside to the beauty in my own hometown. Is your unfamiliarity fabricating my sense admiration for you, or are you inherently beautiful? How long will it take for me to hate you?

Ode to Antonius

Ode to Antonius

by Niko Devera of FIU in Tivoli, Italy

My love, my sweet supple raw tender violet love. The world hath no mercy that it selfishly consumed you. Every waking second of every day, I wish that it had been my last breath, that my lungs had filled with that vicious God’s fluid, and that my flesh slowly descended to the depths at the mercy of the Nile where the riches, power, and fabricated manifestation of importance would fade away, and I would stare into you for one final moment. But you are selfless. You dared to preserve me; the whispers became cacophonous to you. You couldn’t bear the thought of my name living in infamy; that my inability to yield children carrying my name with my faceless wife would become my legacy, and that I would be remembered as the sodomite who loved his lowly servant. It boasted the tolerance of the people, but below the veil of class you were my equal, my counterpart tethered by transcendental emotional understanding. I became you just the same as you became me, yet you chose to preserve me. You offered your pure flesh as a sacrifice so that I may live on as the God people first made me out to be, rather than the emasculate fool I slowly became in their same eyes. And for that I love you impossibly more. Your death will only be of flesh, for you will forever live on in me and as the God your spirit became. The same people that tore us apart will love you the way I once did.