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).

Speculation and fear-mongering: a short comparison of American and Canadian breaking news coverage

 
I’ve been listening to some Australian news coverage (← Australia’s ABC News livestream) of the just-finished hostage situation in downtown Sydney, Australia, this morning and was reminded of Al Jazeera’s short comparison of American and Canadian television reporting (embedded above) in the wake of the Parliament Hill shootings in Ottawa, Canada, earlier this year. The video is an eye-opening look at how much speculation and fear-mongering figure into American breaking news coverage.

On this subject, take a look at On The Media’s Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook. Here’s one of the program’s segments on why they made the handbook, and it’s well worth a listen. The handbook always seem to be right when you look back at breaking news coverage. Here are my three favorites, all of which applied in this case: “News outlets will get it wrong,” “There’s almost never a second shooter,” and “Don’t trust anonymous sources.”

Keeping that handbook in mind, my two favorite places to read breaking news are MetaFilter and Reddit (beware of Reddit detectives, by the way). In today’s case, both offered up-to-the-minute links to news reports and press conferences as they happened, as well as rumors getting passed around and debunking or critical analysis of the rumors. Reddit, also, usually has comments from people very close to the incident. Here’s the most active Reddit post (Here’s a comment that had news before most anywhere else; On The Media’s handbook applies. Here’s a comment that had information quickly with better source attribution. Here’s a comment from someone who was locked into a nearby library during the hostage situation.), a Reddit Live post (better than the active post for a distilled look at information as it becomes available), and the MetaFilter post (comments there are always at a higher level than anywhere else on the web). From those two sources, you can always find links to live streams from local news, by the way.

My other favorite source for breaking news, the New York Times’s Lede Blog, has ceased operation. The Times still periodically does live coverage of breaking news, though, often aggregating links to other news coverage of the event in question. In this case, I couldn’t find live coverage at the Times, though they did link to the Sydney Morning Herald’s live updates.

Trailer released for Wim Wender’s documentary on Sebastião Salgado

 
A tantalizing morsel of Wim Wenders‘ and Juliano Salgado’s documentary on Sebastião Salgado, The Salt of the Earth (IMDB), has been released. The Guardian has a review and some information about the making of the film.

Sure, half of the video (above) isn’t in English, and the trailer makes the movie look like a hagiographic camera advertisement, but I’ll still be interested to watch when it comes out. When it does come out, there likely will be a host of critiques of Salgado’s work, as ever. Most of this critique hinges on the beautification and aestheticizing of suffering. The standard response is that the photographer must make photos worth looking at if they are to drive attention to particular issues. More troubling are issues of representation in Salgado’s work as it approaches the noble savage depiction of indigenous peoples. I don’t think Salgado’s work reaches Jimmy Nelson levels of colonialist/orientalist anthropology, but it’s there, especially in the most recent Genesis work. This Huffington Post review approaches the topic a bit, and here’s the first page of an academic paper(← PDF) looking at objectification in Salgado’s work. More troubling still is that the Genesis project was largely funded by the Vale mining company, one of the worst human rights violators in some of the regions that Salgado’s work depicts. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see Salgado at work in this film.

Wim Wenders seems to have a particular interest in documentary photography, by the way. If you remember, he delivered a particularly moving speech when James Nachtwey was award the third annual Dresden Peace Prize.