Be You

rossella nisio – estranged in iceland

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Rossella Nisio

Estranged in Iceland

play this essay


I’ve always felt a deep kinship with the character of Cosimo Piovasco in Calvino’s novel, Il Barone Rampante; as a born escapist, my selfish ideal was to find a tree to climb never to descend again. When I moved to Iceland in the midst of its financial crisis, I was eager to make it my tree and live forever in the caressing murmurs of its chill waters. At first it was pure bliss: I’ve never experienced such a perfect elation and fondness for any other place and probably never will.

With the post-crisis tourism boom, a gulf opened up: now that everybody was taking flashy pictures of waterfalls and rainbows over lava fields, I started to feel that the colorless melancholy of opaque windows, eroded boulders and seaweed suited me better. I was still trying to grasp at the essence of a territory whose ineffable nature was being assessed with cynical eye by its own inhabitants willing to sell the paradigm of perfect retreat for the cool and the well-behaved. My Iceland however was not cool and well-behaved; on the contrary, it was hushed, untamed and unapproachable. It defied the reassuring human need for acknowledgment, a need destined to remain a fleeting fragment at the mercy of the tremendous power of the elements and dissolving in forlorn light. The country I was experiencing was totally different from the one local and international media were so desperate to put on display. I started to feel stranded on unreal shores, thus growing more and more alien to my surroundings.

These photos were taken over a long period of time in different locations all over the country, although the majority was shot in the Reykjavik area. They are affectionate and schismatic mementos of an indistinct and tearing longing for a frontier on the verge of disappearing, swallowed by the growing appetites of a nation frantically looking for international attention, devoted to promoting and selling its distinctive features through loud headlines more than to protecting and enshrining them.

Before moving on, I felt the urge to make a posthumous evaluation of my Icelandic experience, to dispel some accumulated commonplaces and reassess my personal view over the strident refuses of the media. More time will have to pass before I can get at a purified and pacified perspective.

“All that remains in the inner recess of the ear is a vague murmur: the sea.” – Italo Calvino, Il Barone Rampante


RS Nisio is a graphic artist, photographer and writer currently based in Lisbon, Portugal. She studied cinema in Rome, before moving on to embrace photography and illustration as her primary vehicles of expression. She worked extensively with different media and for this reason she was able to develop an eclectic style that frequently incorporates digital montage techniques and heavily relies on creative photo editing. While she was living in Iceland, she worked as freelance journalist and concert photographer and published her work under different names in several accredited media, including Iceland’s national broadcaster RUV and MTV. She shares some of her knowledge and thoughts on mobile photography on the blog Appotography.


Related Links

Rossella Nisio



kevin mcelvaney – agbogbloshie

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Kevin McElvaney


play this essay


Agbogbloshie is a suburb of Accra, Ghana and a former wetland (recreation area) surrounded by the Odaw River.
 About 10 years ago it started to become a dumpsite for illegal e-waste from the industrialized countries (EU, US, UK, China, India e.g.). Nowadays 500-800 shipping-containers with “donations” reach the Tema Harbour (close to Accra) every month. About 80% of these so-called donations, second-hand products or development-aids are fake labeled, because in reality the goods are no longer usable. Most of these hazard materials end up illegally in electronic dumpsites, such as Agbogbloshie. Agbogbloshie used to be known for its market, where you could buy cheap local fruits and vegetables, but the e-waste dumping turned it into a place where youngsters between 7-25 years smash stones against TVs, disassemble PCs/ Laptops and burn cables to get the copper out of it. Agbogbloshie is an environmental, ethical and social-economic disaster, as well as a major health concern. The 40,000 inhabitants themselves nicknamed this place “Sodom and Gomorrah”.

My aim was to get a more or less subjective point of view and to show the personalities of the people that (have to) work in Agbogbloshie. I have focused on the individuals for this project as opposed to the burning and processes that takes place. After an interaction with every “model”, I told them to take a near-by device and stand on top of it and look into the camera – nothing more was influenced or controlled and the shooting just took 5-10 seconds for each portrait. For me it is important to let the viewer see that I had some interaction with the people. Many documentary photographs give the viewer a feeling of separation from the subject, but I feel that it is important for a connection to be established.

The Series “Agbogbloshie” has been published in various media including The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Fox, Stern, Zeit, De Standaard, Daily Mail, and Dazed & Confused, and was featured on international TV and Radio stations.


Kevin McElvaney was born 1987 in the north of Germany, raised by a German father and Irish mother. After his A-Levels he moved to Hamburg to serve his civil-service and to study business administration, law and sociology. To finance his life as a student he freelanced for agencies and organizations, which took him around the world. This is the reason he decided to buy a camera one day – to save his impressions of places and experiences.

He has been a self-taught, freelance photographer since 2013.

Agbogbloshie is the first series he has published.

Related links

Kevin McElvaney


Up from the Sands



It has been a long time since I have written here. I have been shooting and teaching and teaching and shooting like crazy. Oaxaca, Rio, and now Dubai. Like a madman. Yet all of it my passion , all of it fun, and all of it just what I DO. Yet of course I just run out of time. Can’t do it all. Want to. Just can’t.

The above picture from Dubai is my most recent, shot a few days ago just before I left Dubai. Not a  likely place for me to shoot, or so I thought before I went there last year. Something bit. I came back again. There was a fascination for me in a new age city where the people of the land went from the poorest on the planet to the richest. Overnight. Allah Akbar. Hence the title of my upcoming magazine : Up from the Sands.

Those of you who know me know that I love books the most as the ultimate resting place for fine work. Books are where I want my work to be. Books are my nourishment from colleagues, those I admire, my students,  and those who are unknown to me., I simply love fine work regardless of source. Sure I want you to be interested in BurnBooks. You have acquired all that we have offered so far. Thank you. Yet for sure I will promote any day the fine work of great publishers like Steidl , Aperture, Phaidon, Trolley, Taschen, etc etc. and anyone else who makes a great book.

I am a Magnum photographer and I will promote Magnum anytime. My company. I will also interview for Burn fine photographers from VII and from Noor and from any other agency where I see fine fork. Why would I promo the competition?

I will tell you why. There just are not that many good ones out there. I will assemble any time all the great producers of any kind. We need each other. To keep the level high. Buy a Taschen book today, buy a Phaidon book tomorrow and get a BurnBook while you are at it. Competing? Sure. Only keeps the level high.

I will be introducing in a couple of weeks Michael Loyd Young’s new book:  Beer, Bait & Ammo. Our latest BurnBooks offering. A work of art, a work from the heart. Mike flipped his life around. A former student, Mike turned his camera on his own world, something I implore all of my students to do.

We will be announcing  soonest our upcoming lineup of books , and zines. Some mine. Mostly others.

It was Kelly Lynn James  who has always been fully credited by me for the name BURN. Thanks Kelly.

So as we did for the title Burn , I am throwing this one out there for you to help choose (no money in this for you)

I wrote above that the title for my upcoming zine on Dubai was gonna be Up from the Sands. Yet I have also thought simply:  Sand …what you think?

(a) Up From the Sands

(b) Sand

(c) your best title…



giuseppe moccia – upon wind we’ll set the sails

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Giuseppe Moccia

Upon Wind We’ll Set the Sails

play this essay


“Upon wind we’ll set the sails” is an exhibition curated by Annalisa D’Angelo, combining the personal diaries of the rookies of the Italian Association of People with Down Syndrome (AIPD) sailing program along with Giuseppe Moccia’s photographic documentation of the students. Since 2005, AIPD has been running an educational curriculum that works in tandem with the sailing school, using the boat’s environment to challenge the adaptive shills of its participants. Amidst their peers and away from the comfort zone of their families, the students work in direct contact with nature to become autonomous key players of an unforgettable adventure. Since 2007 Giuseppe Moccia has joined a number of crews in order to compose an intimate and personal narrative of the student’s journey.  On April 4, 2014 the work will be displayed in an exhibition financed by the Department of Equal Rights, along with the launching of a self-published book.


Giuseppe Moccia was born in Naples in 1978. He grew up in Rome and graduated in International Economics at the Università Commerciale L. Bocconi in Milan. In 2007, Giuseppe started a personal project on social inclusion for people affected by Down syndrome which received international recognitions such as the “PhotoEspana-Ojodepez Human Value Award” and the “Flashforward” for emerging photographers from the Magenta Foundation (Canada). Giuseppe is currently working on a long-term project following the changes of the anthropic landscape in Italy.


Related Links

Giuseppe Moccia