The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay
May 2016 back issue
Black Snow Montecampione Italy
by Joan Bardeletti
A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous! Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
Driven out of their countries by conflict and chaos, refugees from Africa continue to arrive in rickety boats on Italy's southernmost outposts such as the island of Lampedusa, a mere 130 km from the Libyan coast. Once registered by Italian authorities many are moved to asylum centres in other parts of the country. One particular group of Libyan refugees was moved from Lampedusa to the ski resort of Montecampione, 1,800 metres up into the Alps, in the heartland of the Northern League, Italy's infamously anti-immigrant far right party. Thus, a group of traumatised Libyan refugees who had witnessed terrible fighting and had never seen snow before found themselves in the gentile surrounds of an Italian mountain village, with the next village over 20 kms away, waiting to have their fate decided by the lumbering immigration authorities.They were housed in a hotel, paid by the Italian state. In October 2011, in the freezing cold, they marched into the valley to draw attention to their isolation and precarious situation. K-Pax, an Italian association, soon took up their cause and enabled them to escape their claustrophobic reality by housing them in groups of 5 or 6 in apartments throughout the Camonica valley at the foot of Montecampione where they had previously been housed. They were given Italian lessons in the mornings and could attend cultural and religious activities in the afternoon as well as take part in sports organised by the association. By introducing them to the culture of their host country they could start to integrate and feel like a part of society instead of merely being temporary guests. In January 2012, Joan Bardeletti spent a week with a group of refugees, documenting their daily lives in their new home. Deviating from traditional documentary techniques, he chose to photograph them wearing distinctive yellow life jackets. The life jackets point to the challenges of integrating in a new society and are also a visual reminder of their journey to Europe and the traumatic traces this may have left behind.
A lifejacket used by photographer Joan Bardeletti during the shooting of his project 'Black Snow’.
A group of African refugees who arrived by boat on the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2011. In July the same year the Italian government, wishing to close the island's migrant camp, chose to send them to Montecampione, a ski resort at an altitude of 1800 metres in the central Alps. They were left there for four months with nothing to do and almost no contact with the outside world. In October they were sent in groups of two or three to various villages in the Camonica Valley while they waited for their immigration status to be decided. In February 2012, after four months, they returned to Montecampione.
An African refugee drinks coffee given to him by a hotel owner on his return to Montecampione.
Gossou from the Ivory Coast writes: “In Montecampione, there was just eating, watching TV and sleeping.”
Abdou Sow, from Senegal, watches skiers through the window of a hotel.
Happy, a Nigerian returns to the appartment he shares with four other refugees after attending an Italian language class.
A Nigerian plays with his neighbours dog in the garden they share in a small village in the mountains.
Ibrahim and Henry shopping at the Lidl supermarket in Breno. A person from the K-pax association (a refugee's social welfare organisation) is following them and pays for their items but choosing, preparing the ingredients list, managing a budget is their responsibility and an important path into integration.
Ibrahim‘s three year trip from Senegal to Libya and finally Montecampione.
Giving an English lesson, helped his friends Ibrahim and Henry (seated), to children at the secondary school of Capo di Ponte.
A Zambian refugee undergoes dental treatment in Esine hospital.
Three Cameroonians sit at the edge of Iseo Lake.
Ibrahim Diallo, from Senegal, stands at the point in the road from Montecampione ski resort where a group of African refugees were stopped by the police as they staged a protest about their living conditions in Montecampione where they had lived in isolation for four months.
Visiting the Casa Museo in Cerveno, a museum on the life of people of the Camonica Valley 100 years ago.
Helping a local maintainence company cut grass and tree branches in the local school's grounds.
Christian refugees pray in the church of Edolo where they also recieve Italian lessons.
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