Stefano Schirato – Where Shall I Go?

Stefano Schirato

Where Shall I Go?

“I don’t think anyone will survive,” said Schiavone, repentant, in his secret testimony. “In Casal di Principe, Castel Volturno, and so on, the inhabitants are all at risk of dying from cancer within twenty years.” He was former treasurer of Casalesi clan controlling the territory in the so-called “Land of fires”: an area in Campania, situated among the province of Caserta and Naples, sadly known for being the most polluted area of this region, due to millions of toxic waste that have been illegally dumped here over the past 20 years. National and international industries have been illegally disposing hazardous waste thanks to deals with local politicians and the Camorra, cutting down the enormous costs of legal disposing. Waste is not only buried underground, in fields where agriculture and farming are present, but also incinerated. The environmental disaster is the greatest in Italy, affecting not only soil, and the related products of agriculture and breeding, but also the aquifer. The presence of leachate flowing underground; poisons filling up enormous caves; the air unbreathable due to miasmas and the smoke coming from pyres set on fire. Day by day, the lives of people living near the dumping sites are put at risk, especially among children and young people.

My work is actually made of two strands: on one hand, the story of a land, tormented by an underworld pollution, that’s sentencing the inhabitants to death. On the other hand, my purpose is to tell the story of its inhabitants: young children who died of cancer; inconsolable but courageous mothers, who unceasingly march and protest against this massacre; ill people, daily fighting to keep alive; teenagers who lost their parents and claim a better future. All these people united by the same destiny and by such a strong attachment to their origins that if you dare ask them why they don’t decide to move somewhere else, you might get an answer like “And where shall I go?”.




Stefano Schirato was born in Bologna in 1974, where he graduated in Political Sciences.
He has been working as a freelance photographer with a keen focus on social themes.
 After several reportages covering topics such as the condition of the street children living in the sewers of Bucharest, he was  awarded with a scholarship to take part in a course with Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin.
In 1999, together with the Non-Governmental Organization New Humanity and in support of Emergency, he proposed to witness the drama of landmines in Cambodia. This work gave birth to his first book, Gli occhi della Cambogia, with a preface by Ferdinando Scianna.
Starting from 2000 he devoted himself to a long-term project about seized ships which was to take him, over the next two years, in various mediterranean ports in order to document the life of maritime prisoners on board.
In 2002 he met the Oscar-winning film director Giuseppe Tornatore, who examined his images and encouraged their publication.
 The same year, the publisher Silvana Editoriale launched his new book entitled Né in terra, né in mare (neither on sea nor land) with an essay by G. Tornatore.
 In the last years has been divided between social issues and still photography and backstage of G. Tornatore’s movies. His works have appeared on Vanity Fair, Panorama, D La Repubblica delle Donne, Il Manifesto, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, Cnn, Le Figarò Magazine, Washington Post, Geo International. His last work on the Refugee Crisis along the Balkan Route “One Way Only” has been exposed in the Chamber of Deputies in Rome by the President Laura Boldrini.


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Stefano Schirato

5 Responses to “Stefano Schirato – Where Shall I Go?”

  • Very nice effort. This is the kind of thing that can do real good in the world. It takes more than pictures to tell this kind of story (unless you are Salgado, of course).

  • I’ve read about this catastrophe before. You would imagine that it would provoke a ‘National Emergency’ response from the Italian government but apparently not: well done Stefano for not letting it be quietly forgotten.
    The photography is very strong, a little too contrast for my taste but that’s just a personal preference. I always like captions but dislike the ones that are repeated on every photograph. I understand that they are repeated because a publication might pick individual photographs and the information needs to be available to them, but in this instance, when photographs have been chosen to be shown together, the captions can be targeted to each photograph. Brief, but to the point. Again, just a personal gripe. The story is an important one and deserves to be told. Not easy to tell I imagine, Stefano, but you have gained great access to you subjects and have obviously gained their trust.

  • Really great work!

    By the way, the link to the author persona site is partially broken:
    remove the https, use http, or it will be seen very badly.

  • Very interesting story, super pictures.

  • Tough situation, tough story, tough pictures. Stefano has educated me about a situation I knew nothing about.

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