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Nowhere Near_Alisa Martynova_10.jpeg

More than one million immigrants from Africa officially reside in Italy, as well as an unknown number of undocumented migrants, many of whom have made a perilous and often life-threatening journey to get there. A 2016 study by the International Organization of Migrants pointed to insecurity, conflict, and discrimination as the main drivers of migration, not solely economic and work reasons. Discrimination on the basis of social group, religion, or sexual orientation was mentioned by almost half of the study group.


In October 2020, the Italian government adopted a decree overturning many of the anti-immigration policies introduced by the previous interior minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing Lega Nord (Northern League).

The migrant’s journey is a long one, night after night, inching toward the horizon like constellations. Not just typical stars, they are high-velocity stars, ejected at hyperspeed by black holes, sprinkled across the cosmos by the force of their propulsion. And these scattered stars, in their crossing, are like the migrants that I met in Italy who had come from Nigeria, The Gambia, and Ivory Coast.

In the choral testimony of the voices I collected, the celestial constellation is one of young Africans from different countries, of different genders, and with different traits, a testament to the individuality and diversity that they each embody. Some young migrants aimed to reach Libya from southern countries, often
finding a dead end in prison. Others aimed at Europe’s El Dorado; many found it, despite sacrifices, its promise intact. Others met a dreadful reality - the dream they had long harboured, treasured on those endless nights of travel, shattered.

The project was continued on the Normandy coast of France, where I worked with immigrants from Rwanda, Congo, Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Some of the migrants I met came to Normandy more than 10 years ago, others settled only a couple of years ago, and everybody has different personal stories and hopes. Everybody speaks at least two languages and three or four dialects, some of them reject their home culture, and others treasure it close to their hearts.

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Alisa Martynova (b. 1994 in Orenburg, Russia) is a documentary photographer currently based in Florence, Italy. After finishing her studies in Foreign Philology in her native country, in 2019 she graduated from a three-year professional photography program at Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence,

She received awards such as Premio Combat (2019), Canon Young Photographers award (2019), World Press Photo award in Portraits Series section (2021), Korridor Preis für Dokumentarfotografie award in collaboration with the 20er magazine (2022) and UNSTUCK award from Magenta Foundation (2022). She was nominated for Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomers Award twice (2020 and 2022), and was shortlisted for the Photolux Award (2019), PH museum women photographers grant (2019) and Aftermath Grant (2022).


Her work was exhibited in festivals and galleries such as Photo Brussels (2021, Belgium), Cortona on the Move (2021, Italy), Encontros da Imagem (2021, Portugal), Planches Contact, Tremplin Jeunes Talents (2021, France), La Gacilly photography festival (2022, France), Italian Culture Institute of Addis Abeba (2022, Ethiopia), Fisheye gallery (2022, France), Reich für die Insel gallery (2022, Austria) and Leica galleries (2023, Italy).

Her work is published by Internazionale, D-Repubblica, Leica Fotografie International, Fisheye magazine and 20er magazine.

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