Carlos Spottorno’s camera is following the money. After a lengthy exploration of the financial plight of southern European countries, the photographer has turned his lens to the secretive and hermetic world of the super wealthy. According to research conducted by Oxfam a year ago, at least $18.5 trillion in private wealth is being hidden in tax havens worldwide. The figure equals a loss of more than $156 billion in tax revenue—enough to eliminate world poverty. Oxfam says that over two-thirds of that global offshore wealth can be found in European tax havens. In order to lend a sense of place to this otherwise abstract crisis, Spottorno has embarked on a series of remarkable, moody pictures of Luxembourg and Switzerland. They are the first of his newest project, “Paradise” (working title), for which he plans to visit all the countries that function as tax havens in Europe. He spoke to R&K from his studio in Spain.
Roads & Kingdoms: Let’s start with the original assignment. This project was born out of a shoot for El Pais, right?
Carlos Spottorno: That’s right. Although I consider it a little miracle. I was already planning to focus my next book on the wealthy part of Europe. I knew I wanted to shoot where the money is, but I didn’t know exactly under which perspective. That assignment was the perfect starting point, because I had the chance to go around Europe for about two weeks, find the right mood, the photographic language, and create an atmosphere.