Valeria Gradizzi | White shadow Under the mango tree

Welcome to the Zoo of this so-called civilized World. Where hundreds of people are still being treated worse than animals. First and foremost the African with albinism, the last among people.

Unlike Ota Benga, the first man to be exhibited at the Bronx Zoo in New York, in the monkeys’ house, the bars where african albinos are pent-up, forced to live in the shadows, and possibly to an early death, are the rays of sunshine.
Prejudice, Superstition and Ignorance are the gaolers’ names. The price to pay is the risk of being killed, or sold like cannon fodder.

Albinos, in most african regions, and especially in Tanzania, are prey in the true sense of the word. Their skin is special, their body worth a fortune, and this is the reason of their tragedy.

Let’s imagine an african native with their own somatic traits, but instead of having black skin he/she is white like the Pope’s cassock. This person lacks of melanin and his/her hair are blond, almost white, and his/her eyes are light-coloured. Because of this difference, he/she is doomed to be considered a person with supernatural power that be wheedled in different ways. So from the very moment of birth the african albinos fight to survive.
Marginalized by a society that doesn’t consider them Africans, by the labor market, by their own family, these people are victims of rituals murders. They are stalked because of the superstition and the popular belief of their magic powers.

In Africa albinism is overall a social inability. Not only victims of human savagery, albinos suffer several problems derived from the exposure to sunlight which causes burns, infections, blindness, and in most cases skin cancer.

The sun thickens their skin, altering their somatic traits, swelling their lips and their face. The 80% of Tanzanian albinos doesn’t live over their 30s. Skin cancer is the silent killer. Their life expectancy is 32 years.

You may ask “if this is a man”.

Q&A with Valeria Gradizzi

Photography is…

For me photography is a language and a way to express myself. Often my eyes is a feeling of loneliness, I like to think of it as an eye toward the reality without filters.

Photography and writing…

I believe that there is a strong relationship between photography and literature, something almost inseparable. I read a lot, books help me to better express in my work. I also think that photography is a method of writing, a photographer writes with light.

Who left the biggest impression on you?

Photographer’s shots of the farm Security Administration are among the works that have most influenced my photographic choices. Many lessons were given to me by the photographs of Robert Frank.

Tell us a little about yourself

portraitVGI changed my life to devote myself exclusively to photography. I’m opening a gallery to give opportunity for young photographers to find a place to display and talk about photography. I am a person constantly moving and can involve those around me in my projects.


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  1. Pierrevert / 8ème édition – Atelier de la Photo - 11 August 2016

    […] –Valeria Gradizzi, (White shadow Under the mango tree), un reportage sur les albinos en Tanzanie. En le visionnant j’ai pensé au reportage de Mylène Zizzo (Effacés du monde). Les images sont d’un très haut niveau. Les photos n’ont pas besoin de légende, chacune apportent sont lot d’émotions. Elle gagne le 1er prix (publication dans le magazine Photo) et c’est bien mérité. […]

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