a project by Tandem Reportages
photographs by Matilde Gattoni and texts by Matteo Fagotto
Shot along the coastline of Ghana, Togo and Benin, “Ocean Rage” documents the devastating natural and social effects climate change is having on the coastal communities of West Africa.
As a direct consequence of global warming and sea level rise, more than 7,000 kms of coastline from Mauritania to Cameroon are eroding at a pace of up to 36 metres per year, disrupting the lives of tens of millions of people. While local governments scramble to salvage big cities and industrial complexes, thousands of villages are being left out in the cold, pushing a thousands-year-old way of life to the brink of extinction.
Once home to thriving fishing settlements, the coastline of Ghana and Togo is now a sequence of crumbling buildings and ghost towns which have been swallowed by the ocean in little more than 20 years. As climate change wipes away houses, shrines and plantations, it also destroys the livelihoods, identity and social fabric of entire communities, with dangerous consequences for the future of the whole continent.
Rising temperatures have prompted fish stocks to move away from the coasts, while erosion and salinization are reducing the quantity of arable land and contaminating freshwater reserves. Deprived of their means of survival, communities lose their most resourceful members to migration.
As rampant unemployment drives drugs and alcohol consumption, the only profitable activities are offered by criminal syndicates involved in fuel smuggling and illegal sand mining.
Far from being an isolated issue, the problems haunting West Africa are the harbinger of what mankind will experience if we won’t be able to find a viable balance between progress and environmental conservation. In a world where welfare is synonymous with urbanization and consumerism, the lives of traditional communities are constantly being sacrificed on the altar of modernity.
The lunar landscapes depicted by Ocean Rage are not lost forever. They are the result of choices we can reverse.
In 2016 Matilde Gattoni portrayed the protagonists of this historic change through a detailed series of photographs and video footage, Matteo Fagotto captured the voices and the testimony of the ones that live everyday facing the raising of the ocean as an inevitable fate.
The photographs featured in the exhibition are accompanied by iconographic settings and are enriched by audio and video contributes. The photographs taken by Matilde Gattoni constantly interact with Matteo Fagotto’s texts that guide the visitors through the analysis of a natural emergency, too often ignored by the media.
The number and the size of the photographs can be adapted to specific curatorial projects and the structure of the venue
Numero of works: over 50 color photographs
Size: ranging from 50×70 cm to 70×70 cm
Type of prints: digital prints on Dbond
Additional material: video Ocean Rage • 8′ 11”
Matilde Gattoni (b. 1974) is an award-winning French-Italian photographer based in Milan and covering social, environmental and human rights issues all around the world. Matilde has a M.A. in History and History of the Art at the University of Strasbourg, France. She started her career as a photojournalist in Palestine in 2000 covering the second Intifada. Since then she has worked extensively in Europe, Middle East, South and Central Asia and Africa, covering topics such as droughts, refugees emergencies, illegal mining, mass migrations, large scale land grabbing and climate change for more than one hundred newspapers and magazines worldwide. Matilde’s stories are published regularly on Time, Time Lightbox, The Financial Times, Der Spiegel, The Observer, Die Zeit, NEON, Geo, The Guardian, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Wired and GQ, among others. She has received numerous awards, including the IPA, Px3, Lens Culture Award, the Invisible Photographer of Asia, the International Color Award and the San Francisco International Award. In 2014, Matilde founded the agency Tandem Reportages along with journalist Matteo Fagotto, with the aim to produce independent, in-depth stories on relevant contemporary issues such as the mass exploitation of natural resources and the relationship between mankind and the environment. Matilde’s work has been exhibited at The European Parliament in Brussels, The Backlight Festival in Tampere, The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, La Feltrinelli in Milan and Rome, Gallery Photographica in San Francisco, Fondazione Pirelli in Milan, 305 Sauraran in Toronto, Al Serkal in Dubai, Berlin Biennal of Fine Art Photography 2016, Palazzo Madama in Turin, Noorderlicht Gallery in The Netherlands, Photoville 2015 in New York, LOOK3 Festival 2016, Centre Culturel Français in Milan. She is the author of Uzbekistan, 10 years after independence, a book depicting the social frame of Uzbekistan following its independence from the USSR.
Matteo Fagotto (b. 1978, Italy) is an award winning journalist focusing on war reporting, humanitarian and social features throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Matteo has an M. A. in History at La Sapienza University in Rome, his articles and reportage have appeared on more than ninety publications worldwide, including TIME, Lightbox, The Guardian, The Independent, The Observer, Macleans, Die Zeit, Die Welt, Weekendavisen, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, L’Espresso and Marie Claire France. Formerly the Africa Desk editor at Peace Reporter press agency in Milan, in 2009 he embarked in a freelance career that brought him to live in South Africa and Lebanon. He has reported extensively from countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Egypt and Rwanda covering, among others, the Arab Spring, the Sudanese civil war and the religious clashes and lead poisoning emergency in Northern Nigeria. In 2009, his exclusive feature documentary on the Somali war appeared on Channel 4. He received the first prize at the 2011 Novinarska Cena journalism award for a series of stories on rebels during the Libyan war.