Bingo halls and rock-star dreams

Story highlights

  • "I Am Dario" follows a young Italian as he tries to achieve his dream of becoming famous
  • The photos carry a universal message, and they also depict a working-class area of Rome

(CNN)Ever since Dario was a child, he wanted to be a performer. He took part in competitions, appeared on television shows in Italy and later won a scholarship to the Roma Rock School.

When he moved to Rome, his dream of being famous moved with him.
During the day, he works at a bingo hall in the Torpignattara district, one of the city's most popular. At night, he dons makeup and hits the stage.
    "I Am Dario," a photo series from Gianluca Abblasio, follows the young Italian as he tries to achieve his dream.
    "This is what I try to do: to show something about people (in Rome)," Abblasio said. "A more complex reality of the real person here."
    Abblasio met Dario almost five years ago. He took a picture at that time -- No. 12 in the gallery above -- but he didn't yet know Dario personally. He says that it was in that moment, when Dario was dancing in a club with some friends, that he knew he wanted to document Dario's life.
    Photographer Gianluca Abblasio
    "I really thought that this young man had something special," Abblasio said.
    There's a universal message embedded in the photos. As we are invited into Dario's life, witnessing his dream of being a famous rock star, we are also left to think about ourselves and our own dreams.
    And Abblasio says his images also tell the story of a place.
    "It's a story that wants to show something about my city Rome and this area that is a working-class area," he said. "Something that is not the stereotype of Rome -- something different that is not shown very often by mass media, but that is real."
    Abblasio describes his photo series as one that encompasses a sense of positivity with a sense of darkness. The use of black and white not only transports viewers to another dimension, he says, but serves to create "the right mood for this story."
    The positive dimension of following one's dreams is evident in every image of Dario, who appears to give his all not only professionally, but also personally as a friend and as a companion.

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    "When I saw him (for the) first time ... I (saw) a person that is followed by many," Abblasio said. "A kind of magnetic energy that can influence other people."
    The dark dimension also lurks within the images, as we see someone persevering with everything they have to achieve the dream of being famous. When Abblasio describes his photo series, he uses the words "willpower" and "tenacity," but he also mentions "broken dreams."
    At the beginning, Abblasio said, Dario showed him only certain parts of his life. It took time and patience -- about one year -- before a trust was developed between the two. And it was only after this that Abblasio said he could "really start to go deeper" into Dario's life.
    "He's a very dedicated person, and he's very shy," Abblasio said. "He's exactly the opposite that he wants to show to the people. This is probably the most impressive part."
    Abblasio lives in the same area Dario works in, and he says the two of them talk almost every day.
    "I learned a lot of things about me through this story. About relationships with other people and trust and respect," Abblasio said. "I have to say, I'm very grateful to (Dario) for the trust and for the friendship."