Spain is one of the countries hardest hit by the European economic crisis. Thanks to a highly unstable financial and real estate market, an estimated 1.2 million new empty houses litter the landscape, affecting a large majority of the population. In parallel, unemployment figures are growing to such an extent that in some areas, especially in the south, cities are experiencing unemployment rates as high as 40%.
I have traveled around the country to photograph the ghost towns and documented the daily lives of unemployed people in Espera and Moron de La Frontera, two Andalucian towns where unemployment levels are among the highest in Spain. And yet, as a proactive attempt to find ways of tackling the crisis, many are organizing themselves to protest and to request local companies to recruit new workers. In towns such as Moron de la Frontera, the tactics are perhaps more urgent, with unemployed civilians mobilizing to gather potatoes missed by the farmers’ harvests in an attempt to survive; either through sales or as a simple source of food.
Even in this corner of the developed world, the impact of Europe’s economic crisis is resulting in the often surreal juxtaposition of a hand to mouth existence lived amongst the ruins of failed urban and economic development.