The Island within the Island

Melissa Carnemolla

Keywords: Society, Corruption, Foodindustry,

On the south-eastern border of Sicily, you’ll find the province of Ragusa, 12 municipalities, 321 thousand inhabitants. A strip of land in the center of the Mediterranean, as well as at the extreme borders of Italy and therefore, of Europe. Like an island within an island, relegated to marginalisation.

The economy of Ragusa revolves around agriculture and finds its nerve center in the largest fruit and vegetable market in Italy. The business that revolves around this trade exceeds 14 billion euros, a huge incentive for criminal organisations.

Big critical issues emerge from Sicilian fruit and vegetable production, especially in the context of overexploitation of labourers and land.

These issues do not concern only this land, as our produce arrives to most European tables. Instead these should be of unitary interest.



I found necessary to write a thesis with the idea that it could be read by future students, but also by professors and institutions. A thesis in which, through three chapters, I try to shed light on aspects that are little studied in classrooms, little researched by students, and generally not very present in the photographic industry. All these aspects explore the postgraduate period or the 9th semester as I prefer to call it.

The first part of the thesis, introduces you to “The Black Hole“ by Jaap Scheeren and Anouk Kruithof, two Dutch artists who created a photographic series about the post-graduate period. This part also includes a common post-graduate scenario, the one we know from those who have already been there. This will be discussed in form of an interview with Scheeren, who, as a middle-aged artist, shares his experience of getting through this period. I will compare his words with the current scenario, meaning the historical period we are living in. Finally, by proposing a dialogue between student and academy, I will put forward points for reflection for the future.

In the following chapter I analyse information that is often hidden. Information that is related to what we tend to not show publicly about our careers and which is being “swept under the rug”.

The last part of the thesis is partly the result of the analysis made in the second part and is divided into four sub-themes which I find to be of fundamental importance if one wants to deal with this career. I distilled these themes partly from the conversations I had with other photographers, and partly drawn from my own experiences in the field and in the art academy. This part of the thesis is called “making entrance”, also because it holds a surprise: that it was made possible thanks to the performative intervention of Adam Broomberg, an internationally renowned artist as well as a professor of photography and a radical voice of our times.

The research methods I have used are mostly based on direct conversations with a variety of people whom I have chosen for their integrity. But you will find a variety of sources with whom you can engage and explore the varied aspects that this thesis brings up.