EA14: On the Identity of a Tomato Picker
I went to Grand Ghetto, a cluster of precarious shelters in the countryside near Foggia, Italy, with the intention of documenting the harsh living conditions of the thousands of African immigrants that work in the fields picking tomatoes.
Soon I started being confronted by the workers about my right to shoot those photographs. Many others have been here before me, they said, shooting and distributing pictures that were largely unrelated to the image that the people portrayed have of themselves.
I am not what I look like, was the key concept of this long speeches I had while I was trying to understand why people were so reluctant to be photographed.
Nevertheless, I was fascinated by the vast spectrum of humanity I had been able to come across during my stay. People that saved money for years in order to afford the journey to Italy, a place where they could find a well-paid job and have a brighter future in the ‘promised land’ Europe. People that now live in cardboard shelters with no water or electricity, working ten hours per day for less than four euros per hour. People that had to lose their identity and become tomato pickers.