Massimo Cristaldi’s Touch Ground

Massimo Cristaldi recently submitted his wonderful project Touch Ground to us at dvafoto and today we are featuring this work and a short interview with him about his project.

In 2013 alone, over 40,000 migrants braved the Mediterranean Sea in an attempt to reach Italy (and Europe). Many of these migrants ended up in Sicily and the surrounding islands. The route was a familiar one, as thousands of these people have previously traveled this route in years past during previous attempts. In “Touch Ground,” I photographed beaches, harbors, cliffs—the places where, in recent years, migrants have first reached the shores of Europe from their original homes in North Africa. The photographs form an exploration of the idea of “Terra Firma”, a coveted place, object of hopes, tragedies, happiness, disillusion, and sometimes, death. – Massimo Cristaldi’s introduction to Touch Ground

Have you made any news reportage of the immigration story in Italy?
Not really “news” reportage in the sense that I like to come back to a place after the happenings. I believe there are too many screaming photos of desperate people on those “hope boats” and, as often happens, we’re becoming indifferent to those images as they’re part now of the usual way of telling this immigration story. I would like to suggest to people a perspective of the sea from those who are coming to Italy, but still also show the perspective of those who live close to the sea. The limit between sea and earth gets a completely differently meaning on the basis of where you look at it.

How did you come to take this approach to documenting this large and important story about immigration?
In 2009 in Lampedusa I was blown away by what was happening. The traces of the arrival of immigrants were everywhere. So I started a long process of documenting the beaches, shores and the places where immigrants arrived. And started to take photographs of those places where there were many events, often fatalities, happened.

Is there something specific about landscape images at night that helps to tell your story?
Night is often the moment when they arrive. Night can be scary and the lights of the towns you see finally from the sea could mean a lot for who is on those boats.

Do you have a personal relationship to any of the communities where these boats have landed? Or with the sea?
Yes I do. I had long conversations with many immigrants that arrived to try to understand what they are feeling when arriving. What are those trips, what is the experience. Those conversations improved my idea of working on this project. The sea, on another hand, is magical for me. I love it. I was born in a city on the sea (Catania) and swim a lot. For me feeling the sea from a different perspective was a great experience.

Bio:
Massimo Cristaldi was born in Catania, Italy in 1970. After receiving a degree in Geology, he began managing international research projects. Art is the environment he grew up in and photography is the way he set his creative side free. The driving concern of his work is focused on traces that man and time carve over nature and things, representing effects and signs on “what remains”, with a particular interest to the “metaphor of the borders” (see more in the artist statement). He was awarded in many international photography competitions such as the International Photography Awards, the B&W Spider Awards, the Photography Masters Cup, the Travel Photographers Of the Year and the Prix de Photographie de Paris. Massimo has exhibited in Europe and in the US, in solo and group shows and at photography festivals. He is represented by galleries in Belgium, France, UK and Italy. He lives and works both in Catania and Rome. Massimo’s photographs are part of the permanent collection of the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, NY (USA).

Remembering Journalists Killed in 2014

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It was another tragic year for journalism, with dozens of colleagues – and a few friends – killed while doing their work.

In May we received news that Camille LePage was killed while on assignment in the Central African Republic. The same month Cesuralab’s Andy Rocchelli was killed in Ukraine. This summer saw high-profile murders of Western journalists in Syria, where we lost James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Dozens more photographers, journalists and media workers have also been targeted and killed in that and many more countries worldwide.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported that in 2014 60 journalists killed were because of their profession alongside 11 media workers who died and a further 18 deaths whose motive is unconfirmed. See their report for detailed information and statistics about all of the journalists who were killed this year, and other reports going back to 1992.

As the CPJ says in the infographic we’ve reposted above, keep the sacrifices of our colleagues in mind as you think back at all of the wonderful reporting and photographs of 2014.

“AfroMaidan” and other foreign media perspectives on Ferguson

Screenshot of Svobodnaya Pressa article calling Ferguson protests "Afromaidan." Article date: Aug. 13, 2014. Screenshot Nov. 25, 2014.
Screenshot of Svobodnaya Pressa article calling Ferguson protests “Afromaidan.” Article date: Aug. 13, 2014. Screenshot Nov. 25, 2014.

It’s always fascinating to see a foreign perspective on domestic news, and Ferguson is no exception. A number of news outlets have collected observations, some recent and some from August, on how the press outside of the US is covering the events that have unfolded since Michael Brown’s killing by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Predictably, some Russian state media have taken an opportunity to skewer the US, saying the protests are a sign of a coming race war. In August, for instance, Svobodnaya Pressa called the protests “AfroMaidan” (a reference to Euromaidan) with a subhed saying that the events are lesson for the world in American-style democracy (screenshot above). Max Seddon, writing for Buzzfeed and who you should follow on twitter if you’re interested in Russia, has another good roundup of Russian coverage of Ferguson, including translations of Russian memes and online jokes about the events.

Buzzfeed translation of Russian nationalist joke about Ferguson protests.
Buzzfeed translation of Russian nationalist joke about Ferguson protests.

According to the Washington Post, British publications have sent their war correspondents to cover Ferguson and they’ve drawn comparison to police response after 2011 riots in London (wiki). And the LA Times and Hollywood Reporter look at coverage from China, England, Russia, Japan, and Germany, though the Washington Post has better links to original reporting from those countries. In addition to the countries already mentioned, Al Jazeera shows what the media in Turkey, India, and elsewhere, have said about Ferguson.

Foreign Policy’s coverage of how Ferguson is covered from afar should not be missed, also. The piece offers a historical perspective, looking at how worldwide media, including the African press, covered early civil rights protests in Birmingham, Alabama.

Slate has a short piece on China and Iran’s coverage (here are English versions of heavy Iran coverage), which linked to the Wall Street Journal’s look at how China’s government has commented on Ferguson.

Related: Here’s Vox’s take on how US media might cover Ferguson if it happened in another country. The piece is in the same vein as Slate’s excellent “If It Happened There” series, which has a new entry today: America’s Annual Festival Pilgrimage Begins. Another photographer has been arrested while covering the news in Ferguson. And be sure to check out my previous posts on Ferguson: Court orders Ferguson police not to interfere with photographers and Ferguson: a fascinating and troubling study of visual politics, race, the police, and the media.