Les Ritals

About This Project

From 1946 to 1956, a lot of Italian workers, the most of them hailing from Abruzzo, emigrated to Belgian coal Mines as unwitting bargaining chip between sovereign nations. Over six hundred people lose their lives in mines, one hundred thirty six burned alive in the wells of Bois du Cazier on August the eight 1956 in Marcinelle (Fr).
It was a mass exodus provoked by the a false promise of wealth: Italian cities, just after the Belgian-Italian Protocol, were crowded by billpostings of pink posters, nothing more than deceptive advertisements. Those posters were conceived to sell the idea of better life conditions in exchange of an capestro contract.
Those are the years just before the italian economic boom. To create Les Ritals I have collected original photographic material, taken from old magazines (TODAY, Time, Paris Match) and from family archives discovered during my retro-reportage in Abruzzo.
I have created a original magazine in which advertising and reality are combining together in order to create a meaning collapse: the media semiotics fall down revealing the paradox.
And the sadistic game of hope manipulation is revealed trough the violent collages that make the photobook.
Les Ritals is the name by which french-speaking people used to call Italians immigrants in a racist way.
Les Ritals is the name by which I want to remember those people today.

Abruzzo, Les Ritals, Marcinelle, Posters