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Luca Catalano Gonzaga May 24, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Indonesia.

Ijen Kawah volcano in Eastern Java, Indonesia 2014

Luca Catalano Gonzaga (b. 1965 Italy) has a degree in Economics. In 2008 he became a full-time professional photographer, focusing mainly on social issues and portraits. He was awarded the Grand Prix Care du Reportage Humanitarie in 2009 for a feature on child labour in Nepal, which was shown at Visa Pour l’Image. 2010. He co-founded Witness Image, a non-profit association developing photographic projects on human rights issues. Luca received funding from the Nando Peretti Foundation, to carry out the project Child Survival in a Changing Climate (2011) and in collaboration with UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization), for the project Invisible People (2013). His work has been published in Geo, The Guardian, New York Times and the Washington Post. Luca is based in Rome.

About the Photograph:

“Sahron, 20 years old, has been mining sulfur for five years. He climbs the vulcano daily with a load of almost 70 kg of sulfur carried in reed baskets, a path he makes twice a day for 10 euros. On his way up he stops to catch his breath again and alleviate the pain caused by the overload. He works inside the womb of the Ijen Kawah volcano in Eastern Java. Every day three hundred men leave the base camp at the slopes of the mountain to reach the top of the volcano. They climb up three kilometres and then head downwards until the opening of the crater where the sulfur crystals lie. Nine hundred meters deep towards hell, defying the unbearable heat, rarefied air, without any protection. The sulfur slabs are broken with the help of a metal pole and then carried in reed baskets that weigh between 70 to 90 kilos.Then begins the return path of the 21st century sulfur picker, heading towards the volcano’s entrance, in a precarious balance, carrying a huge load that deforms the spine, bends the legs and produces ulcers on his shoulders. A very hard kind of work which will end soon – the average life expectancy of the sulfur miners does not go beyond 50 years.”