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The silent ski resorts during the pandemic

A photographic reportage by REFE, a collective of 5 young photographers from Turin

The silent ski resorts during the pandemic
A photographic reportage by REFE, a collective of 5 young photographers from Turin
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The silent ski resorts during the pandemic A photographic reportage by REFE, a collective of 5 young photographers from Turin

How have the landscape and the atmosphere changed in the ski resorts that usually fill up with guests and tourists during the Christmas holidays in this particular year? The five young photographers who make up REFE, a Turin collective, started from this question and made a reportage on the ski resorts of various Alpine resorts. Alessandro De BellisLuca FarinetLuigi GrecoMatteo Montenero and Nicolò Nastasia told nss magazine about their project, entitled Un Silenzio Autentico

"Following the Christmas Decree in force from December 14, 2020, to January 6 2021, Italy has entered the red zone again. The ski resorts have been closed, and winter tourism practically eliminated. Investigating the mountain resorts between Piedmont and Valle D'Aosta (specifically: Pila, Cervinia, Bardonecchia, Sestriere and Sauze d'oulx) we realize that what were once charming tourist resorts now seem almost like ghost villages. In this atypical, and perhaps even more authentic, mountain atmosphere, remain only a few workers, like G., owner of a ski shop in Sestriere, who tells us that their turnover also depends a lot on foreign tourism. 

There's still someone who can ski, including instructors, competitive athletes and some practices such as ski mountaineering or snowshoeing. Looking at Google Trend, in fact, we see a 500% surge in the search term "ski mountaineering", the same goes for the queries associated with snowshoes. This obviously is not enough for the Alpine tourism sector that in normal conditions would employ 400 thousand people. The turnover, which normally fluctuates between 10 and 12 billion, has had a heavy decrease of 70% with a loss of about 8.5 billion. In the face of this, ski instructors, mountain guides, implant managers remain without or with little work, restaurateurs and hoteliers are forced to keep their facilities closed. The already serious situation is not lightened by the uncertainties about the data and government indecisions that increase the frustration and anguish of the mountain workers. In a scenario of desolation, some snowboarders improvise a jump track, here in Cervinia we meet B., a girl from the United Kingdom who was in Italy to work in one of the structures that, however, couldn't open. 

Our intent was to document the surreal desolation of these places at a time when we would rarely be able to see them again like this. Sport becomes lonely for the few who can ski and experience totally empty slopes. The architectures and the suggestions of the landscape become even more oppressive over the human figure, which is not very present. A reportage with few subjects, distant, solitary and silent but resolute. There's a need to go back to the experience of the mountains in an authentic way, this time meaning the authenticity of fun and sharing, the fatigue of sport, crowded slopes and stays in hotels."