/ Michele Palazzi / Photo story

Black Gold Hotel

In the last decade the economy of Mongolia has grown at an unprecedented rate with GDP expanding by more than 10% per year. All this mostly depends on the mining industry. Attracted by the large deposits of copper, gold and most of all coal, all of the industry’s global giants have invested and keep investing in this small country of Central Asia.

In this accelerated and deregulated development, local populations and traditional ways of life, based on ancestral nomadic herding along the routes in steppes, are undergoing a crisis. Many families have quit their activities and moved to large urban centres in search of work opportunities in this new industrial society, often slipping into economic and social poverty. Others, however, try to resist, dealing with pollution and dust poisoning the vegetation, as well as the increasingly difficult living conditions on an everyday basis.

This work is a journey in the daily lives of a few families from the Gobi desert, where the pasture, which has been the main livelihood for centuries, will disappear in a few decades. On the one hand, there are those, who chose to continue the tradition of the steppe despite all the difficulties, on the other, there are those who preferred to take their chances in the large cities, unfortunately facing the reality of a space, which is deteriorated and invaded by unreachable western cultural models.

Michele Palazzi (1984) was born in Rome. In 2013 he received the First Prize of Environmental Photographer of the Year Award. Between 2012 and 2013 he started working on the Black Gold Hotel, a long-term project about the impact of modernization on Mongolia. He is represented by Contrasto.