Manfredi Pantanella



of countries that "don't exist"

CYPRUS, VAROSHA Varosha was the most turistic spot of the island, until the turkish occupation (1974). Nowadays it is a ghost town ruled by the Turkish Army.

There are countries that exist on the margins of the global political scene, whose independence has not been recognised by the international community. They might have an anthem, a currency and their own language, yet institutionally speaking, due to a variety of reasons, they are still unable to exist as a nation. 

REPUBLIC OF ARTSAKH, REGION OF MARTUNI View from the foot of the Tnjri, oldest tree in Artsakh (approx. 2040 years old), situated near the village of Skhtorashen.

PRIDNESTROVIE MOLDAVIAN REPUBLIC, TIRASPOL  Cyril and Daniel are newborn twins from PMR. Derived from the Latin natio (from nasci = to be born), the term Nation retains today the original archaic meaning of ‘birth’, ‘lineage’; thus, it designates a group united by ties of kinship. From this, by extension, derives the modern meaning of nation which designates a human group to which common origins are attributed.

“What is that makes something exist or not?” 

CATALONIA, VILLAFRANCA DE PENEDES .A man drinking from the “Porron” 


CATALONIA, TARRAGONA, PALAU DELS CONGRES Mister Body building Catalonia 2018 

WESTERN SAHARA During the Sahara Marathon, a running race that unites the five wilayas 

WESTERN SAHARA, MARKET OF SMARA.An everyday purchase at the market of Smara using moroccandinars. Despite not having a currency of their own, Saharawipeople have invented a local exchange rate in order to price theirgoods locally. 

REPUBLIC OF ARTSAKH, VANK, MARTAKERT REGION. Thanks to the patronage of Leon Hayrapetian, philanthropist and timber magnatefrom Vank, this peculiar little town differs from any other village in the world thanksto its very special and surreal appearance. The redevelopment plan he supportedhas seen many eccentric buildings spring up in Vank, including a zoo and twoluxury hotels, one of which is in the shape of the Titanic. Here a copy of the David 

The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States was signed by nineteen countries of the American continent in 1933, with the aim of regulating the imperialist tendencies.

RABUNI, Western Sahara.


Still in force today, it proposes a conventional model of the four essential characteristics that define a state: a permanent population, a defined territory, an exclusive governmental power and the possibility of maintaining relations with other states

However, Article 3 states that “the condition of the State is independent of the recognition of other countries”. 


PRM , Cimitery

However, Article 3 states that “the condition of the State is independent of the recognition of other countries”. 

WESTERN SAHARA, TIFARITI The village of Tifariti is part of what Polisario Front (Saharawi rebel national liberation movement) call the Liberated Territories, and Morocco call the Buffer Zone. It has been the de facto temporary capital of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic since the government moved there in 2008 from Bir Lehlou.

By looking at the paradoxical situation of these countries that have self-declared their independence but have never been recognised by the UN, this photographic project explores the different elements that make up the national and personal identity of these unrecognised territories and their inhabitants. 

TURKISH REPUBLIC OF NORTH CYPRUS Şenel Bektaş, Miss North Cyprus 2019

WESTERN SAHARA, RABUNI Inside the Saharawi War Museum 

TURKISH REPUBLIC OF NORTH CYPRUS, RIZOKARPAZO The nature reserve of white donkeys, protected species of northern Cyprus

CATALONIA, LLORET DE MAR The Catalan Paella is a “mar i munt”.


Turkish Republic of Nord Cyprus

While the UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation),based in Brussels, represents almost forty unrecognized nations, we have end eavored in An Atlas of Countries that “don’t exist” to explore ten of these countries dispersed in various parts of the world.


Republic of Artsakh, Gingalov Hat.

Western Sahara , Zagma.

Turkish Republic of Cyprus, 

WESTERN SAHARA, RABUNI At the entrance to the Saharawi Parliament in the town of Rabuni. The SNC is a unicameral body, with 53 seats, elected every two years in General People’s Congresses by delegates from the Saharawi refugee camps. The 35% of the parliamentarians were women.

REPUBLIC OF ARTSAKH, STEPANAKERT NATIONAL AIRPORT Stepanakert airport has been operating since 2011. Several employees work here, but no aircraft have yet landed on these runways. Tensions with neighbouring Azerbaijan have prevented the arrival of aircraft and the conveyor belts are running in vain...

TIRASPOL - Pankrushev Vasily Afanasievich is one of the oldest professors of the Linguistic faculty of the State University of Pridnestrovie. The State University is dedicated to Taras Shevchenko, Ukrainian poet, writer, artist and political figure. His literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature and, to a large extent, the modern Ukrainian language. In PMR the students can choose if attend the University in Romanian or Russian language. The three characters painted in the background are Pushkin, Shevchenko and Kantemir.

5 Territories : Transnistria, Catalonia, the Republic of Artsakh,
the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and Western Sahara.

Where and how we come into the world, how we are preserved afterdeath, the name and surname that accompany us throughout our lives,the family, the celebration of rites of passage, are all elements thatconstitute a person’s identity. The local territory, the fauna and flora,
the historical, political-administrative and cultural places, and theeminent personalities are, for their part, elements that contribute to theformation of the national identity.

In An Atlas of Countries that “don’t exist”, these various geographical contexts and their acts of identity-making are put into conversation.

CATALONIA, BARCELONA During the demonstrations of Oct.1, 2018, celebrating one year after the Catalan Referendum. 

While dealing with these lived realities, we transform them through our personal approach to photography in order to make the paradox that these populations go through resonate, and, at the same time, to confuse the viewer - which may incite him or her to reflect on his or her own identity processes. 

PRIDNESTROVIE MOLDAVIAN REPUBLIC, DUBOSSARY - “Mound of Glory”, on the way from Tiraspol to Rybnitsa, a tank in memorial of the World War II

By exposing this paradox, the project
hopes to challenge the viewer to question the self-evidence of their own nationhoods. 

The ambiguity conveyed through the particular visual language (saturated colors, artificial light, unusual composition, long exposures), echoes the limbo that these countries and their people are experiencing.

This project is conceived and realised together with Lavinia Parlamenti.

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