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BLACK SNOW (extract)

Joan Bardeletti

L’année dernière, une centaine de migrants africains parti de Libye et ayant échoué leur embarcation à Lampedusa ont été transféré à Montecampione, une station de ski à 1 800m d’altitude dans les alpes italiennes. Ceci dans le cadre de la répartition des migrants sur tout le territoire, décidé par l’état italien pour soulager le camp de rétention de Lampedusa. Ces africains qui avaient fui les combats en Libye et bien souvent jamais vu de neige, se sont alors retrouvé pendant 4 mois, coupés de tout dans une station de ski déserte, le premier village étant à 20 kms, à se morfondre en attendant d’être fixés sur leur sort, avec un accès au téléphone 1 minute par semaine. Ils étaient logés et nourris par un hôtel rémunéré par l’Etat italien. En octobre 2011, le froid arrivant, ils font une marche vers la vallée pour attirer l’attention sur leur sort. Une association, K-Pax, les prend en charge et réalisent depuis avec eux une démarche originale de micro-integration: par groupe de 5 ou 6 personnes au plus, ils vivent dans des appartements des petits villages de la vallée Camonica au pied de Montecampione, suivent des cours d’italien le matin et font des activités culturelles, religieuses, sportives, ou de travail l’après midi. L’objectif est de favoriser leur découverte de la culture italienne et leur intégration à la société locale dans une région où le parti raciste Lega Nord fait la course en tête. En janvier 2012, j’ai suivi pendant une semaine le quotidien de ces migrants ainsi que leur voyage pèlerinage à Montecampione. Pour ce travail photographique, j’ai choisi de sortir d’une approche photojournalistique classique et leur ai demandé de porter des gilets de sauvetage. Ces objets sont des marqueurs rappelant que leur vie quotidienne d’apparence banale est en réalité une complexe tentative d’intégration; ils sont aussi une mémoire visuelle de leur parcours qui fut d’abord maritime, et des traumatismes vécus qui seront longs à disparaitre -------------------------------Last year, about one hundred african migrants having shored in Lampedusa island coming from Libya at war were transferred in Montecampione, a ski resort at 1 800 meters high in the italian alps. It was part of the global plan of the Italian government to empty the migration camp in Lampedusa to spread refugees on the whole country. This african refugees, for most of them never having seen snow or even mountains, stayed stuck for 4 months in this isolated ski resort 20 km far from the first village down the valley, waiting for their situation to be clarified by the authorities, with just football to play and a 1 minute phone call per person and per week. Italian state paid a hotel for their food and accommodation. In October 2011, cold coming, they organized a march down the valley to be recorded. An association, K-pax, in collaboration with local authorities decided to experiment with them a new micro integration process: by group of 5 or 6, no more, they live now in apartments in a dozen of small villages of the Camonica valley down from Montecampione, follow italian courses in the morning and do work, cultural, religious or sport activities in the afternoon. The aim is to ease their understanding of the italian culture and their integration in the local society where racist party Lega Nord is very strong. In January 2012, I followed them during a week and shared with them a pilgrimage trip back to Montecampione. To tell this story, I wanted to abandon the classical photojournalistic approach, asking the migrants to wear life jackets. This striking objects record that the everyday life photographed here is for them a complex integration process. They are also a visual memory in this alpine environment of the path taken which was primarily maritime and of the traumas they went through which will be long to leave aside.

Previous page: «In Montecampione, there was just eating, watch TV and sleep», write Gossou an african refugee from Ivory Coast

Next pages: > African migrants posing in front of the Montecampione slops, as they returned in the ski resort 4 months after having left it > Abdou Sow, coming from Senegal through Libya, is watching skier from the hotel windows. In the background the fences around the football field which was their only occupation when they were there. > Towtow from Mali, is enjoying a coffee offered by the hotel manager at the lobby. Hosting these migrants was a good financial deal for the hotel owner as he received 40€ per day and per migrant from the Italian State during 4 months of the low season. > Migrants leave the hotel to get back in the valley in the appartments where they now live.

Page right: Henry, african refugee from Nigeria, describe his life when he was in Montecampione. Following pages: > Happy, a refugee from Nigeria, is coming back in the appartment he shares with 4 other migrants in Cerveno vilage after italian classe. While his friends finish coocking, he plays with his neighbor’s dog in the garden enjoying the winter sun. > Ngoumbou Ndaw, Diedhiou Bakari, and Mamadou Lamine Kamby, refugee from Senegal are having an afternoon tea home in Pia Camuno village with Nutella and black coffee after having done work type activity outside in the afternoon. > Henry, Happy and Ibrahim, refugees from Nigeria are trying to understand card play rules in a small bar of Cerveno after having visited the local church.

Page left: Diallo Adama, refugee from Gambia, is getting treated by a dentist at the Hospital of Esine

Page left: Cloths drawings done by Ibrahim, who was a tailor during 10 years in Libya before escaping the country during the war. Life was good there he said and he could make about 1 000â‚Ź a month without too much effort. He is a very strong activist among the refugees, urging them to take their responsabilities and to ask for their rights.

Page right and following page: Moha Maluba, Kamby Mamadou Lamine, Sow Abdou, Diedhiou Bakari and Ngoumbou Ndaw are five refugees from Senegal. They are not authorized to work while they are waiting for their status to be clarified by the authorities. However, to ease their integration they perform work type activities as during this afternoon, helping a gardening company to clean the park of the local school. Following page: Mustapha, Amadou, Yacouba, Adama and Sekou are all refugees from Gambia, living in an appartment in Piancogno. They follow every afternoon courses in a wood laboratory, learning to create furniture with a female italian teacher.

Page right: «My hope» is a text of Saïdi Manda, a refugee from Gambia, telling his story from Libya to Italy and his dreams for the futur. It was written during an italian class.

Page right: > Happy, Ibrahim,and Lamine, refugees from Nigeria and Mali, are visiting Casa Museo, a museum in Cerveno about the life of the people of the valley during the 1900. Following page: > Happy, Ibrahim and Henry are doing their grocery shopping at the Lidl supermarket in Breno. A person from the K-pax association is following them and pay the items but choosing, preparing the ingredients list, managing a budget is their responsability and an important path into integration as they cross their neigbours with their trolleys doing the same. > Five refugees are talking with the priest of Piacamuno in the parish recreation center. Equiped to play football in the cold, they wait for the local italian team to arrive to start the football game organized by the church. > Ibrahim, a Senegal refugee, on the road down from Montecampione at the precise point where the refugee’s march down to be recorded after 4 months in the ski resort was stopped by the police in October 2011.

Page left: Henry, a Nigerian refugee write how he escaped Libya during the war Following pages: > Happy is giving an english lesson, helped by his friends Ibrahim and Henry seated, to children of the secondary school of Capo di Ponte. > Four catholic african refugees in church in Edolo village during a friday office. The priest helped the K-pax association by giving it a place for the italian lessons to take place and feeding the refugees as they were doing a strike in the bitter cold in front of the prefecture to have clearer information on their status > Eric, Hammadou, Felix, refugees from Cameroon, are hanging out by the Iseo Lake in Pisogne were they live for 4 months now. They crossed the desert, stayed lost 3 days before being rescued, arrived in Libya 2 weeks before the war started and then boarded at 250 on a ship. > Refugees from Ivory Coast following italian class with a retired sceondary school teacher.

Page right: My name and foreanme are Seikou Sanneh. I am 21 years old. I was born in Libya from Gabian parents and I was a student at the university when the war in Libya started. I have no idea where are my parents now. I spoke with my friends there but they tell me they did not see them anymore. I arrived in Italia on the 29th of June 2011; I was in Lampedusa and then I was sent to Mandoria a camp near Torino and finally in Montecampione; but I was not happy because I did not hear my family’s voice since one year now and there was nothing to do up there. I stayed in the sea during 5 days coming from Libya; there was no water and nothing to eat. Now I leave in Cogno village in an appartment. I am a little OK, and a little KO because I always think about my family in Libya. Following pages: > the road to Montecampione after a snow storm. > Happy, Ibrahim and Henry, 3 Nigerian refugees, are discovering Monte Campione ski resort during a snow storn, 4 months after having left it. It is the first time they actually see snow and they celebrate it.

Page right: The three years trip of Ibrahim from Senegal to Libya and finally MonteCampione.