A series of tomatoes still dirty with soil just as they were harvested. These are the subjects of the series Migrant Tomatoes by Italian photographer Francesco Amorosino, who won the Sony World Photography Award this year in still life category.
The tomatoes were bought by his family to make the tomato sauce at home, a common tradition among families from the South of Italy. A huge amount of vegetables are cooked and caned and they are eaten for the rest of the year.
The tomatoes are grown in the fields in the South of the country, especially in Puglia and Basilicata (the home region of Amorosino) and they are harvested by about 19,000 laborers, mostly immigrants. The workers are paid 1 or 2 euro for each collected crate. Only in 2015 there were 13 deaths at work in the fields because of high temperatures that can arrive till 42 celsius degrees.
On the surface of the tomatoes photographed by Amorosino, you can still see the fingerprints of the people who collected them, a sort of police evidence. In the pictures the tomatoes are suspended in a black environment, with a black line crossing the surface where the tomato is, reminding a burial site, or a border to cross, or a division between the tomato and the viewer of the picture. These pictures are an invitation to stop and to think about the people that gave their lives for a simple tomato, to imagine their stories, the hours they spent in the sun, their hopes, their desire to work. In this way, we can’t see tomatoes in the same way.
“Having won this important award is really a dream come true – says Amorosino – it is also a recognition of the fact that you can tell important stories in unconventional ways. A simple tomato tells us about what we ignore (or choose to ignore) of the world, about immigration, about the exploitation of labor, but also about traditions and the importance of family and of roots. This is the power of photography and of our imagination”.
In many of Amorosino’s projects still life photography becomes a metaphor of something else. In his last project “Index Librorum Prohibitorum”, realized for the exhibition “Any Given Book” at White Noise Gallery in Rome until the end of July, he applied to old school books the torture techniques of the Inquisition. All his projects, even if they can seam visually not connected, deal with the issue of what is and what is not real, or better, what people think it is or not real. Superstitions, religions, conspiracies, freedom and rights: these are some of the topics of his research. He is also interested to see how these issues are related to specific territories, moving along the borders of documentary photography.
About Francesco Amorosino
Born in 1984, Amorosino grew up in Rionero in Vulture, in the South of Italy. Now he lives in Rome where he works as a photographer, journalist and photo guide and he teaches in courses of photography for adults and children. He collaborates with Luz Photo Agency. In May 2015 he won an artist residency in Northern Italy with Magnum photographer Alex Webb to document the Langhe area and there the project “Il Libro del Comando” started. This work was among the finalists at the 2015 Lensculture Visual Storytelling Awards and the dummy was a finalist at Vienna Photo Book Awards and DocField Dummy Awards. With the dummy of “The Rome guide for terrorists” in 2013 he won the “Open your books” Award for the best self-published book at Sifest in Savignano sul Rubicone and in 2015 with a new updated dummy he was among the four finalists of the Unseen Dummy Book Award in Amsterdam and among the eight finalists at the Call for Books Award at Encontros da Imagem in Braga, Portugal. [Official Website]