Francesca Scelfo

Purgatory hotel

2019 - 2023 , ITALY
Contributions: IMP festival (International Month Of Photojournalism) , Jacobin Italia , Perimetro
No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark

Purgatory Hotel aims to describe how people face inequality, how they structure communitarian responses to it, what they feel in-depth and their psychological conditions because of temporary life.

Refugees, asylum seekers, homeless people, irregular immigrants remain outside the economic circuit and therefore obtain non-extensive protection in terms of housing. Housing emergency is a big issue nowadays: the poorest face difficulties often amplified by their environment.

The project was born in 2020 (in progress) in Padua, North Italy when I started telling the story of 11 families in a small occupied housing near the city centre. Facciolati 96 is an ex- university residence where mainly Africans, Italians, Poles and Albanians lived.
They lacked a sense of community and had many problems in organizing their lives in their community; unsuccessfully trying to create safe conditions between neighbours.

I decided to extend my project to the capital city: Rome, where many occupied accommodations in Italy are concentrated. The stories I describe are focused mainly on two large occupied housing neighbourhoods: Province (140 families, near the city centre) and Torrevecchia (70 families, North of Rome). These occupied housing involved a lot of cultures: Africans, North Africans, Moroccans and Tunisians, Ukrainians, South Americans as Ecuadorians, Venezuelans and Peruvians.

Every squatted building represents a bigger issue. It embraces macro dynamics that cannot be forced into a discomfort category. As a psychologist and photojournalist I tell the small and intimate story that tells a bigger picture. Purgatory Hotel wants to explore the contradiction between families’ isolation and the social support they try to find by responding to psychological and social distress situations.