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Antonio Gibotta The floor became slippery and I had to dodge the flour and the eggs

At first glance, Antonio Gibotta’s photos seem to depict some kind of war zone. But the young Italian photographer’s pictures actually show a strange tradition called Els Enfarinats which takes place every year in Ibi, Spain. The celebration goes back more than 200 years and stages a coup – but instead of real weapons, the “fighters” confront each other using eggs, flour and smoke bombs.

Since 2016, we’ve partnered with the World Press Photo awards to tell the stories behind the best photojournalism around, in the photographers' own words. See the whole series here.

I love traveling and searching for stories; foreign cultures make me curious. I take pictures of the poor and outcasts, because I want to empathise with them. Often, others look at these minorities with contempt. Instead, I want to spread the sense of solidarity through my photos.

Some of the realities I’ve seen, such as situations in South America, Africa, India, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Europe, changed my mind and my values completely. Because of these experiences I’ve become much more grateful for my life and the gifts it has to offer.

Photography lets me show what’s inside of me without the need to use words – it’s my way of expressing myself.

This series shows the Battle of Enfarinats – which means ‘floured’ in Spanish. This tradition is celebrated each year on the 28th December in Ibi, in the province of Alicante, Spain.

During this day people are divided into two groups. The first, consisting of the Enfarinats, simulates a coup d’état and take over the town for the day. The second group tries to restore order. They fight each other with flour, water, eggs and smoke bombs.

An event like this involves some practical difficulties. When I reached the heart of the struggle, after a few minutes, the floor became slippery and I had to be careful to dodge the flour and the eggs. It was quite complicated to stay focused on the work, because you have to be concentrated on the working equipment and ensure that no damages occur.

I’ve always applied to photographic contests with images featuring cruel settings like wars and tragedies, such as my project on immigrants from the Balkans. But with this series I wanted to show another type of war; I wanted to show a conflict without actual victims and one that doesn’t scare people.

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