In Memoriam – Antonio Zambardino

I have lost a friend last week. He died very young. He was part of a family that almost adopted me during my teenage years – and he was the older brother I never had.

He was dyslexic, when dyslexia was not recognised as an issue and he had terrible marks in school. His childhood and youth were marked by failure. Nevertheless, Antonio knew his life had to be about something. So he graduated in Photography, and became a great photo-reporter. He traveled the world and the world celebrated his life when he died: there were articles on The Guardian, The International, The New York Times, La Repubblica, featuring his travels and research.

But that is not the point. The point is, Antonio did what he always wanted to do. Circumstantially, he did it very well.

Antonio taught me the greatest life lesson of all: that life is incredibly small. There’s so many of us, a multitude of tiny human beings in a big, big planet. Voices, thoughts, opinions, stomachs, choices, big and small. If I close my eyes, I can hear the world murmur in the background, from the step of a spider to the blast of a bomb.

Part of the things that I can hear and see are thanks to the range of reportage Antonio has conducted, with colleagues and by himself, throughout the years. He has told stories from far and wide, stories of people, environment, war. Every photo he has taken is a life that has gotten closer. A life that has gotten bigger. He remained behind the lens, doing what he wanted to do, doing it well, doing it because that was his dream and he wanted to live life at its fullest.

Antonio spent his time laughing. He also spent his time literally screaming at us that we should be fearless, and happy. That our life is entirely in our hands, that we can do anything with it. That we shouldn’t be scared of failure. That we should never spend time regretting, that mistakes are lessons, that nothing should stop us from pursuing anything that we want to pursue. I am happy to say that he has been such a strong role-model for me that this is exactly what I am doing right now with The Lettuce Dream Theatre Company.

I am leaving a promising, safe career in hospitality in favor of a part-time job which could be considered a step back, in order to give myself time and energies to pursue my passion in theatre. I am investing time, energies and money in what could be just a dream, but aren’t we “such stuff as dreams are made of“? I was nineteen when, by the sea, I announced to Antonio that I wanted to move to London, get a whichever-job and write in my free time. That it didn’t matter for me to succeed or not, but that I wanted to try. Against the setting sun, he was smiling at me, with his fucked up hair going all over the place.

And whoever you are, if you are happy, if what you are doing makes you happy, then you are doing the right thing. And if you are not happy, and you don’t know what to do, remember how small you are. That’s an advantage. That’s a good thing. Move swiftly in the undergrowth, make your mistakes, take a less-traveled road, or take a main one, it doesn’t matter. You are so lucky. Dream. Live.



Antonio Zambardino (1981 – 2016)

This picture was taken by Lorenzo Pesce in Rome as part of his Bodyscanner project in 2010. Lorenzo is an advertising and editorial photographer whom has worked for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Focus, Conde Nast, among others. He was a colleague of Antonio at the Contrasto agency.

You can see Antonio’s work on his website and on almost any world-wide publication: Vogue Italy featured part of his latest project, called Indoslam, and translated the article in English; he was also mentioned on the Italian publication of Wired and L’Internazionale.

This post is scheduled to go live on Wednesday 18th May 2016 at 7am GMT, when in Bangkok (local time 1pm) Antonio’s body will be cremated at the Wat Khlong Toei Nai.

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