Adolescence Denied: Youth Migrants in Greece

PhotographerAlessandro Penso
PrizePress / Feature Story
Entry Description

Hundreds, thousand, hidden in the abandoned industrial areas that surround the port of Patras; in the old disused train station in the centre of Corinth; in the ‘urban holes’ that dot the landscape of an Athens wounded by the crisis. They are the kids I followed for this project. After desperate journeys, they arrive from the wars which have tormented their countries in recent years. But war, for them, was only the beginning of the tragedy. Those who come from the Middle East and Central Asia try to reach Europe, the land I am lucky enough to call home, through its eastern door, Greece. They then get stuck there, amidst increasingly harsh security checks and racism which tragically often degenerates into neo-Nazi violence. For many, there is the hope of being able to rebuild the sort of life which would be impossible in their country of origin. The young Afghans are mainly fleeing the forced militarization practiced by the Taliban in Afghanistan, subsequent to the war that affected the country in 2001. For many others who are fleeing a scorching North Africa in revolt, the hope is to have the rights they were denied by the radicalization of the violence in their country of origin, recognized. Persecution for religious and ethnic reasons, or due to political opinion, could allow them to obtain refugee status in European Union countries, but certainly not in Greece. There, the rules are so tight that more than 99.5% of requests for asylum are refused. For this reason, they are forced to hide, because having a Greek police record would mean the end of the dream of safe reception in Europe.

About Photographer

Alessandro Penso was born in Velletri in 1978. He studied Clinical psychology at "La Sapienza" University in Rome. in 2007 he obtained a scholarship in photojournalism at the "Scuola Romana di Fotografia". During his studies, he produced a photo reportage on the subject "Valle dell'Omo" in Ethiopia for which he obtains the "PDN PhotoStudent". In the last few years he has begging documenting works on the body and sexuality of the modern society and immigration these works are still in progress. Thanks to a part of this work, he obtains several awards such as: The second award for the PX3 photoreportage category "the other" and one honor mention; 8 honor mention at the IPA, 1 for the "Lucca Digital Photo" and the nomination as "selected author" at the "Fotoleggendo 2008". In 2009 he was finalist at the Photoespana and he was selected for the project "In Between" (the goal was to photograph Rome in 62 hours outside the ancient walls) by the "Rome photography Fotofestival" to realize a team project on Rome wich has been published as a book and has produced an exhibition. Moreover, for the Festival of Rome he joined a team expo "12x10". In 2009 thanks to "Drag Kings" project won "PDN Photo Annual 2010". In 2011 won Project Launch, Santa FE, with "Migrant Workers Journey" which was exposed at New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe.In the same year entered in the Shortlisted of the prize "Accademia Apulia Photography Award 2011".His works have been exhibited and published in different countries like England, North America, South Africa, EuropeHe lives and works in Rome.