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Black Snow

Driven out of their countries by conflict and chaos, refugees from Africa continue to arrive in rickety boats on Italy's southernmost outposts such as the island of Lampedusa, a mere 130 km from the Libyan coast. Once registered by Italian authorities many are moved to asylum centres in other parts of the country. One particular group of Libyan refugees was moved from Lampedusa to the ski resort of Montecampione, 1,800 metres up into the Alps, in the heartland of the Northern League, Italy's infamously anti-immigrant far right party. Thus, a group of traumatised Libyan refugees who had witnessed terrible fighting and had never seen snow before found themselves in the gentile surrounds of an Italian mountain village, with the next village over 20 kms away, waiting to have their fate decided by the lumbering immigration authorities.They were housed in a hotel, paid by the Italian state. In October 2011, in the freezing cold, they marched into the valley to draw attention to their isolation and precarious situation. K-Pax, an Italian association, soon took up their cause and enabled them to escape their claustrophobic reality by housing them in groups of 5 or 6 in apartments throughout the Camonica valley at the foot of Montecampione where they had previously been housed. They were given Italian lessons in the mornings and could attend cultural and religious activities in the afternoon as well as take part in sports organised by the association. By introducing them to the culture of their host country they could start to integrate and feel like a part of society instead of merely being temporary guests.

In January 2012, Joan Bardeletti spent a week with a group of migrants, documenting their daily lives in their new home. Deviating from traditional documentary techniques, he chose to photograph them wearing distinctive yellow life jackets. The life jackets point to the challenges of integrating in a new society and are also a visual reminder of their journey to Europe and the traumatic traces this may have left behind.
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