Marco Panzetti’s ongoing, long-term multimedia work documents the migration crisis on the Mediterranean Sea.
In Life after Hell, he aims at returning names, voices and faces to the refugees who went through the horrors of the most lethal migratory route in the world.
Photographs, videos and text by Marco Panzetti
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that as of the end of 2016 there were 700,000 to 1 million migrants in Libya. In most cases, they are unlawfully imprisoned in detention camps run by armed smugglers and suffer from all sorts of abuse, including slavery practices and torture (source: Amnesty International). Fleeing their country first and from Libya afterwards, between January 2014 and October 2017 on average 8 people a day died in the Mediterranean trying to reach Italy. It is the most lethal migratory route in the world, with more than 10,000 deaths in 3 and a half years (source: IOM).
Nevertheless, during the same period more than 500,000 people reached Italian shores, and over 270,000 of them applied for asylum. During the 2-year wait for their cases to be processed, asylum seekers in Italy are hosted in reception centres nationwide. They have the right to food, accommodation, Italian lessons and pocket money, but due to their undefined status it is nearly impossible for them to be legally employed.
Throughout the summer of 2017 I visited 5 of those reception centres, from the tiny mountain village of Vedeseta in the north to the seaside Sicilian city of Messina in the south, to collect some of their stories. The result is ‘Life after Hell’, a multimedia project where photography, video, audio and text combine to reveal the sometimes shocking asylum seekers’ testimonies about Libya, the Mediterranean crossing and, ultimately, their situation in Italy.
The project was co-financed by the EU-funded Migration Media Award and supported by its partners ICMPD (International Centre for Migration Policy Development) and Open Media Hub. Part of the photo/video material was produced on assignment for the British Red Cross and SOS Méditerranée.
Marco Panzetti (Bergamo, Italy, 1981) is an independent documentary photographer, multimedia journalist and visual artist. His work focuses on contemporary issues related to social injustice, migration and collective identity.
He carried out projects in Europe, Latin America and Asia, frequently in collaboration or on assignment for non-profit organizations and media outlets. While photography remains important to his documentary work, he also works with different audiovisual formats to create short documentary films, multimedia pieces and art installations. His long-term body of work on the European migrant crisis, ‘The Idea of Europe’ (2015 – present) received international recognition including the honorable mention at the 2017 Lange-Taylor Prize and the first prize in the video category at the 2017 Migration Media Award.