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How important is to not be alone? How beautiful is to have friends, or at least to be able to show them off? Eventually, how much are we interested in proving others that we are in high demand, happy and busy?

The photo feature #fakefriend by Niccolò Rastrelli is about answering these questions. It is an unusual trip of a hypothetical tourist along the most popular Italian cities with other people… who are hired to be there. Right. Indeed, while it is difficult to answer those ontological questions, it is way more immediate to navigate through the very human shortcuts that are invented to fill them up. We start from internet web sites that allow to select the people we would like to keep us company and we hire them for few hours. Obviously, there is a fee that we have to pay to the hired person.

The uberisation of friendship arrives – and how could it be different – from East Asia, where we can request especially celebrities and influencers with tens of thousands of followers with whom we can take selfies to show off in order to increase our social status. It is also a well-rooted practice in the States, the homeland of peer-economy; where they can hire anything they want, from the car up to a pair of jeans. And now it arrived also to Europe, traditionally the destination of tourists from all over the world in search of stories, adventures and fun. This has to be shared: free of charge or not.

In Italy, the phenomenon of hiring friends is recent – almost none of those that Rastrelli met has been a subscriber of this portal for more than six months – but, above all, it took an original connotation: not only it is a source of immediate earnings, and as well an opportunity to create future opportunities. But also, honoring the country, it satisfies the desire to show our own city to potential tourists, and it is a chance to travel while remaining at home. 

That is why it happens to find local politicians hired from the platform (rentafriend.com), but also teachers, doctors and young people with multiple specializations who, as it is explained by one of them, Evelyn, 27-year-old, Italo-Brazilian, born in Bologna, hope to «display their own abilities and meeting someone interesting, and maybe from abroad».