On Balconies We Pray

Essay 526 • May 1st 2023

I was studying in Milan when the first case of covid was discovered in Italy, and the day they decided to lockdown, I caught a flight back to Mexico City. Repatriated, with classes suspended and without work, I found in my camera and in the surrounding buildings, consolation and refuge. As I took a close look at that familiar landscape, I discovered for the first time how interesting it was.

My mother’s apartment is located in the orthodox Jewish neighborhood and most of my neighbors belong to the community. During the strictest quarantine, the closure of religious temples was a measure to contain and prevent the spread of Covid. As the synagogues were closed, the balconies of my neighborhood became sacred spaces where twice a day Orthodox Jewish men went out to pray. For three months, the rhythm of my days was marked by the chants in Hebrew that managed to penetrate the windows of my house. A rhythm that I found comforting at a time of uncertainty.

The balconies, once residual spaces, became not only sacred spots but also a place to meet, to play and to connect.

“On balconies we pray'' was photographed from March to November 2020.


Natalia Garcia (b.1991) is a mexican photographer based between Milan and Mexico City. Her background as an architect has an influence in her photographic practice, where she explores concepts of time-passing, the builded space and the relationship of people to their urban context. Her work has been exhibited in Europe and the United States, as well as online in collective exhibitions. She was a single image winner of the Female in Focus 2021 award organized by the British Journal of Photography.
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