The dairy farmers of Via Lactea are part of a story that began with a genetic mutation in their ancestors, shortly after the first agricultural settlements in Switzerland. A change that allowed them to tolerate lactose even at an adult age, thus facilitating their survival in these harsh mountainous lands, often cold and covered in snow.
Although the consumption of milk is not a matter of survival anymore, breeders and producers, convinced of the goodness of their product and worried about the decrease in consumption and incomes, make sure that their own people (among the most lactose tolerant in the world) aren’t going to lose this characteristic based on an enzyme that stays active only if continuously stimulated.
In a context of modern agriculture, I wanted to interpret the character of something apparently ordinary but strongly related with the identity and continuous transformation of these lands and the habits of their inhabitants. In the long winter months I travelled across my country, to observe the people who earn their living from milk production, trying to find in them the reflections of that mysterious enzyme they preserve, as a characteristic of their nature. Switzerland (2015-2018)
Alfio Tommasini is a photographer born in a very small village south of the Swiss Alps. He’s particularly interested in the relationship, adaptation and transformation that people have with the territory where they live. He decided to start to narrate human stories with images when living for some years in Mexico and Central America working on social and environmental issues. He studied in Madrid, Spain (a Masters at EFTI) and has published and exhibited his works internationally. Recently, with the project Via Lactea he has been awarded the 3rd prize in the Sony World Photography Awards contemporary issues category, and he was a finalist at Prix Photoforum Pasquart, Switzerland and Head On Photo Awards, Australia.
He conceived and co-founded Verzasca FOTO Festival, for which he’s in charge of the artistic direction. He’s currently based in Ticino, Switzerland working as a free-lance.