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Moon City: a photo essay on London

Mimi Mollica’s film noir-style shots of the city create a haunting, menacing landscape.

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Sicilian-born, London-based photographer Mimi Mollica has a view of both the City of London, the business heart of the capital, and the moon from his balcony on the top floor of a block of flats in east London. Stuck in his apartment flat for months during lockdown with just the occasional outing for essentials, Mollica became more and more struck by his ever-changing view of the moon and its relationship with the city beneath it. 

Shooting with an iPhone through the viewfinder of a telescope, Mollica found that his attraction to the moon’s beauty was quickly interrupted by the vision of a rather different city and one which he felt reflected the hidden, eerie and darker side of the financial centre of the capital. “I felt it was like peeping through a keyhole and seeing an obscure system that preys on social inequality, dictating public policies to favour the market. I found myself creating a dialogue between the full moon and the close-ups of empty offices, left vacant because of the lockdown measures in London. They both influence our lives and the way our planet behaves; one follows the rules of nature and the other obeys the rules of the free market.”

The results are a film noir-style series of images. The emptiness of the buildings and the light and flimsy framing of the telescope viewfinder create a haunting, menacing landscape. Moon City is a compelling account of the way the city was hit by the coronavirus pandemic and how it looked to a photographer caught up in it. "I stand in awe, look and listen, and comfort myself by trying to capture a sample of this silent battle. I hope, one day, I can make sense of it all."


Gerry Brakus is Creative Editor of the New Statesman and also writes on photography.