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Photographer's Showcase: Michele Palazzi & Alessandro Penso -- Migrant Workers Journey

photo-eye is please to announce a portfolio from the winners of the Center Project Launch competition -- Migrant Workers Journey by Michele Palazzi & Alessandro Penso

Migrant Workers During the Tomato Harvest, Basilicata, Italy -- Michele Palazzi & Alessandro Penso
Selected by juror Dewi Lewis of Dewi Lewis Publishing, Michele Palazzi & Alessandro Penso's work documents the conditions of migrant workers in Italy. Coming to Italy from various locations in Africa, the workers often move around the country based on the harvest season, picking everything from melons to citrus, kiwis to tomatoes. Starting in August or September, the tomato harvest can be particularly brutal.

The status of the migrant agricultural worker in Italy has become an increasing source of tension. Recent shootings and resulting migrant worker riots have exposed racism, though the profound poverty in some of these Italian farmlands is the bigger underlying issue. Despite vast unemployment in some of these regions, the migrant workers fill jobs that most Italians would not take themselves. Working for twelve hours a day and living in awful conditions, the migrant agricultural workers typically make around 30 euros a day.  The conditions endured by the workers are terrible -- one Father speaking on behalf of the migrants likened their situation to one of the rings of hell in Dante's Divine Comedy.

Taking on this country-wide issue, photographers Palazzi & Penso have manged to illustrate the lives of these workers by centering in on a specific group. Dewi Lewis praised this technique in this juror's statement:
I particularly like the fact that Michele and Alessandro have kept the focus of their subject tight by narrowing down on agricultural workers within a specific region. This offers the opportunity to really confront the problems this group of workers faces - but it will require creating relationships of trust, even friendship. A project such as this needs to go beyond the portrayal of the workers simply as victims, it must reveal our common humanity. -- Dewi Lewis
Seasonal Workers During the Lunch, Basilicata, Italy -- Michele Palazzi & Alessandro Penso
In this collection of scenes and portraits, Palazzi & Penso do not present simply a tragedy, but also the life one carves out of an appalling situation. Images of workers in the fields mingle with photographs depicting the other side of this life: food preparation, rest and prayer. The tawny landscape and pale sky of the Italian farmland, on the cusp of or undergoing decay from summer abundance, make for an arresting backdrop. The images are both striking and beautiful, but are captured with a beauty that does not over shadow the seriousness of the worker's conditions. Rather, the beauty works in favor, creating images that intrigue the eye and linger in the mind.

See Michele Palazzi & Alessandro Penso Migrant Workers Journey portfolio here.

For more information, please contact photo-eye Gallery Associate Director Anne Kelly by email or by calling the gallery at (505) 988-5152 x202