Michele Palazzi – Finisterrae

Michele Palazzi


[ EPF 2017 – FINALIST ]


“Finisterrae” means so much as: end of the road. That is more or less how it feels when moving around Southern Portugal or, more precisely, the region that in the ancient Roman era was known as “Lusitania.” The residents of this outskirt of the European Union seem to be forgotten, as if they are living at the end of the road of Europe’s prosperous past. For this project, Michele Palazzi resided in this region for a consistent amount of time in order to get a grip of the situation and to find a visual translation for it. Altogether, the landscapes and portraits are documentary by intent, be it is not so much to inform the viewer about the subject on a rational level. Instead, they hint at a more transcendent “mystique”; a specific mood as felt when traveling around the region struggling for its survival.



In a way, the people who live in this region haven’t changed that much over time. There is still an omnipresent esoteric fume that surrounds former “Lusitania,” as reflected in the minds of its inhabitants; in the myths and beliefs that are being passed from one generation to the next. Yet, they also have to deal with the harsh facts of contemporary life: The centralisation of economic power and wealth sustained by EU governments has resulted in poverty and abandonment of areas that were already disadvantaged – a process that completely destroyed social and economic structures of rural communities. Those who have been located here over centuries are now forced to leave or, alternatively, to live outside the system. As a consequence, abandoning the land of their ancestors, families are becoming disconnected from each other, and the few who decided to stay put – mainly the elderly and the poor – slowly but steadily slide down in a state of alienation. This process of social marginalisation and desertification of the soil is destructive, be is seemingly unstoppable for this bereft district.

Text: Erik Vroons



Short Bio


Michele Palazzi is an Italian documentary photographer. Born in Rome in 1984, he gained a masters degree in Photography at the Scuola Romana di Fotografia at 23 years old. In the beginning of his career, he worked on the project “Migrant Workers Journey,” recipient of the Project Launch Award 2011 at Center Santa Fe. Afterwards, he started working on “Black Gold Hotel,” a long-term project about the modernization impact in Mongolia, recipient of the First Prize of Environmental Photographer of the Year Award. In 2015, the project was also awarded the First Prize in the Daily Life category Stories of the World Press Photo. Afterwards, he worked on the project “Fade Away,” focusing on the Chinese migrations from rural areas to cities. He lives in Rome and is represented by Contrasto agency.


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