A visual quest towards an unconventional representation of migrants through a symbolic act of rescue and re-appropriation of photographs and personal belongings lost or discarded by migrants after their arrival at Lesbos, Greece.
In late 2015 I spent several weeks at the Island of Lesbos in Greece, only six-mile sea crossing from Turkey and single largest European recipient of new migrants. During major news events, but not only, photographers often take a generalized, homogeneous and glamorized approach to their work. As a result, millions of very similar images appear, rapidly saturating and anesthetizing the public.
In Lesbos I decided to step away from the pack. That’s because the deeper story is never revealed where it is most dramatic and spectacular. Rather, the story is found away from the hustle and chaos, where silence reigns, hidden in peripheral corners and folds, in the ravines where the dust settles, in everyday gestures, ordinary and intimate. It lies in the seemingly insignificant details.
As I walked around the island every day, I began to stumble upon an incredible amount of family snapshots, passport photos, and personal belongings that were either lost or discarded by migrants after their arrival. I found them along the northern rocky shores, among the vegetation or on the dusty roads that migrants walk to reach the nearest refugee camp and I photographed them in the place of the discovery, on the surfaces available in the immediate vicinity. Unfortunately I never met the people who appear in the photographs. Each picture is an evidence of the life they had before fleeing for their lives. That life that once seemed unbreakable. The images keep their mystery, they will never tell the real story that instead runs away with their owners.
However, these unconventional images are capable of creating an emotional impact that goes far beyond what is usually depicted and therefore they can bring a reflection far beyond what they show.