• Personal


    2016 - in progress

    Personal is a photographic project about seasonal work and workers every summer heard in tourist destinations along the Adriatic coast in order to seek employment and work for several months to supply the need for personnel, only to return to their place of origin at the end of the season. Also, in this work, the artist depicts the spaces inhabited by the workers which create a parallel topography of the place where they are located. 

    Often, seasonal work is connected to physical work, an overload of working hours, a small salary, and practically no mention of the psychological consequences of the workers. There are also all sorts of testimonies about the mistreatment and exploitation of employees by their employers. It is also not rare to give negative connotations to these people from the members of the local community, they are often depicted as lazy, promiscuous, uneducated, coming only to go to the beach, etc. 

    Luckily this is not always the case but stereotypes are hard to get rid of. Seasonal workers are in fact an invisible army that allows tourism, the biggest source of income for the whole country, to remain functional so it is quite absurd that the very same workers, often coming from eastern, poorer areas of the country, are seen as necessary but not necessarily welcome. 

    Of course, there are many exceptions. There are several cases where, back in the time of the ex-Yugoslavia, workers from the different areas of the former country would find employment on the coast where they would meet their future spouses and stay for good. Luckily there are such stories happening today as well.

    Through this photographic documentation, I am trying to tell the stories of the workers, narrate their condition of temporary migrants, living in two or more places in order to work and always trying to build their status and identity as citizens and members of the community. 

    The title “Personal” has a double meaning, personal as Croatian for personelle and as the English meaning of private, which is something that often lacks in the common areas they inhabit during the months of seasonal work as well as their personal stories, of the life between two shifts, two or more places they live in.

    If it’s true that everything in life is temporary, that all places are temporary, the question is how is it possible to build a life on sold grounds and how does all this interfere with the perception of someone’s own identity. Seasonal workers are leaving their homes at least once a year, often leaving family and friends behind in order to secure better living conditions for themselves and their families. This recurring duality though, takes a toll in the building of an identity and personality as well as in building lasting relationships.

    What we could see in the last years, is a change in the trend - because of a chronic lack of workforce, the salaries are getting bigger and the contracts are getting better. The workforce is being imported from foreign countries and the employers are slowly starting to pay for the bad working conditions they put their employees in. It is obvious that people will go to Austria, Italy, or other countries with higher salaries and better working conditions. 

    Since the trends are in constant change, this work is also constantly building and adding up so it is a long work in progress. Recently, with new immigrant workers coming to fill up positions mainly in the hospitality industry and in construction, there are new stories to recover, and different, yet similar life patterns to understand.