What one thing has most helped to shape your practice?
The first project I did is the one that allowed me to continue in photography. That was the moment when I started to believe in myself and understand that through hard work and being very focused, I could make any project work. I’ve also always understood that failure is part of learning.
Why photography? Why the still image?
I do not only work with still photography. The first part of the series Passengers, the portraits taken at sea, will be accompanied by contextual texts based upon interviews I am doing, as well as videos, maps, letters written by passengers, as well as other materials. As for photography, it is a gateway to places, contexts and environments in which otherwise I would have no excuse to access. Through photography, I can narrate the realities that I choose to document in a way that I could not do through words or other media.
Where do your ideas begin?
Most of the projects I’ve done have been long term. Once I find a topic I want to work on, I get very involved in it and I carry it from the concept and research to its distribution. Many of the ideas come while I’m travelling or through people I meet on the way, and stories I read or hear about. I tend to work on every topic in a very personal way, but I always try to find a journalistic approach that will make the stories more interesting for the public and connect with the greatest number of people. Photography allows you to do that – you can adapt the type of photography to the way you want to tell a story.
The Passengers project is not finished; I am in the next phase of it. It has already taken me more than two years and will surely take me another year to finish. I am trying to locate the 118 passengers of that boat to emphasize the idea that I have been working on since the project began: that each of those numbers has a story behind it. I have already located 105 of the 118 people who were in the boat, and I have conducted interviews with 40 of them and documented their lives; they currently live in different places in Europe, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. This is a research project in which I want to address the issue of migration along the central Mediterranean route. I’m using a comprehensive approach that serves to explain this complex reality, with a special focus on explaining the terrible crimes that are being committed against migrants in Libya, through the testimonies of those who have lived it.
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