Jim Casper, Editor-in-Chief of LensCulture, chose this submission as his Juror’s Pick in the Magnum Photography Awards 2017. He explains his choice in the brief statement below; we have also included Gibotta’s full artist statement so you can delve into the project’s fascinating background and inspirations.
“Antonio Gibotta’s photographs catch your eye right away because they capture so much incredible detail, and they are so close to the action. Then, when you look more carefully, you get the joke, and that takes the delight of these pictures to an even higher level. The effect is wonderfully cinematic. These days, we have lots of horror and terror in our world (and in the media), so it’s a pleasant relief to see that kind of imagery turned on its head for just a moment. Bravo!”
In Ibi—a small town in the province of Alicante, Spain—the “Flour War” takes place every year on December 28th. The Flour War is a festival in which the citizens are divided into two groups: the first is called the “Enfarinat,” or “the floured,” and they simulate a coup d’état. They take control of the town, pronouncing ridiculous laws and fining citizens who infringe them. Another group, “La Oposicio” (The Opposition) tries to restore order and calm the rebellion. At the end of the day, the fines are donated to charity. The teams play with flour, water, eggs and colored smoke bombs.
It has been celebrated for 200 years. Its origins are linked to the Massacre of the Innocents—when Herod, the Roman-appointed King of the Jews, ordered the execution of all young male children around Bethlehem in order to avoid losing his throne to Jesus. That date is now recognized as the Feast of the Holy Innocents in the West, but the citizens of Alicante put their own spin on the festival with their eccentric, visually memorable celebrations.
If you’d like to see more work like this, we’d recommend the following articles: The Riverbed, images of a group of people in Spain who live in makeshift dwellings that emphasize their occupants’ anti-establishment beliefs and identities; School of Shepherds, a series on a group of young people in Spain who are embracing the old ways of their country; and Children of the Deer, a project that explores ancient Celtic legends in an extremely remote area of Spain.