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Valle di Comino is proud of its recent and long history of emigration. Emigration, low fertility numbers, and an aging population, have led to depopulation. The map was provided by Luciano Caira, from the Atina Library, it comes from the book ‘La Rinascita del Cassinate’, edited by E.Ri.Cas, published in 1953.
People attach their own meaning to places. During a one day tour we visited the depicted favourite places. Silvia di Passio made the photos, assisted by Koné and Moro.
This page is based on several tours given by Luigi Ricciardi across Valle di Comino. The photos are taken in Vicalvi. The focus of this page is on remnants of human activity in this region, rather than the history of the earth in general.
Graphs are often used in news articles to show where refugees come from. Those lines do not show what it means to be a person on that journey. This page combines the graphic representation of journeys, with the emotional baggage that people accumulate during that journey. The images used in the legend are from the Moroccan Sahara, and the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Italy.
Life of hair
The women photographed are Mado (top) and Binta (bottom). The bits of hair on the left page are owned by Binta and Angela and they are used for extensions or to make wigs with. Some hair can be bought at the Chinese shop in Atina Ponte Melfa, other hair is imported. Real hair can cost hundreds of euros. Women often do each other’s hair, and also men shave or dye each other’s hair.
There are 103 African refugees living in Valle di Comino, and another 16 non-African refugees. The language exercise was only conducted with African refugees. The image therefore does not include the languages spoken by non-Africans. There are throusands of languages and dialects spoken across Africa. This list is based on the languages participants distinguished. It may include dialects, and it does not necessarily correspond with conventions within the study of African languages.
Italian refugee facilities are provided by private organisations who respond to and win ‘calls’ set out by either the council (for the SPRAR) or the council (for the CAS). Though these organisations are regulated, the services they offer are radically different so that two people living in the same area, could have completely different ‘rights’ and opportunities. This page represents those differences. Given the fast changing political environment, practises and regulations might change. Statements are correct at the time of research (March 2019).
It is hard to imagine the effect that not having a car has on one’s sense of freedom. This page aims to show that those without a car navigate space and time differently. The map used is adapted from a map that dates back to 1995 and that was provided by Luciano Caira from the Atina Public Library.
Day in the life
Participants were asked to describe a typical day. The day represented here is a weekday, weekend days were slightly different. Fatima coloured the different moments she felt good during the day. Yacouba has been making the drawings and text for both him and Yusuf. All three live in apartments managed by the SPRAR. People who live in a CAS asylum centre generally have less structure and less opportunities.
The African men in Valle di Comino play football, watch football and bet on football - everyday. Their favourite teams are generally European. To represent this, a group of people was asked to make drawings of their favourite team. They chose to draw the emblems, and spent a few hours to capture the exact details of the emblem.
The maps are drawn by Richard and Omar. The images are based on different houses and texts are compilations of different conversations and observations to show what it means be managed by and share a house with others.
What we eat
In a CAS asylum centre, the type of food people eat is highly regulated. The council defines the quantities of what people are allowed to consume, house managers do the groceries and in a house with more than 10 people, there needs to be a cook that further decides what and when people eat. With flavours being one of the few things they can bring from their home country, and with bodies that simply stop digesting when eating too much Italian food, they go to a small shop in Sora or Frosinone to buy other food from their pocket money. Photos on the left are taken of food in the house, photos on the right are taken from the internet.
As a valley, Valle di Comino exists only because of the mountains that surround it, which influence how people experience living here. Mountains are also a metaphor for the many obstacles that people face when they request asylum.
People spend a lot of time on their phones. It offers access to a world far beyond Valle di Comino. The phones are meant to give an idea about the kind of apps people use. Neither of the phones belong to a specific person.
Practising religion gives a structure to daily life and plays an important role in offering a sense of security in an otherwise uncertain life. This page aims to show how faith is lived in daily human life, rather than how it may be politicised in public life.
What I wanted to ask
Refugee newcomers have very little interaction with the Italian residents. As a consequence, they have many unanswered questions or stereotypes that remain unresolved. Texts are direct quotes, extrapolated from conversations or directly asked for in interviews.
It can take more than two years before someone is called to go to ‘commission’ where they tell their story and need to provide evidence for it. The majority is (wrongfully) rejected. Almost all people appeal a negative decision. The top photo consists of the documents belonging to people still in their asylum procedure. The bottom photo are the documents of someone with an asylum status.
Refugees are allowed to work, even if they are still waiting for their asylum. There are 115 refugees of working age in Valle di Comino - there are the samev number of boxes on this page. This page is meant to show both the stress that comes from not working, as well as the wasted potential.
It is not the intention to compare humans to waste, but rather to point to the wasted human capacity. A situation which, in this region, often extends to Italian youth as well as to refugee newcomers. Managing waste more generally is a problem in Italy.