• A journey through...

Shores, Walls, Enclosures | Space over Time

In Milos Bicanski's photograph, a woman in a life-jacket on the Aegean sea shore with the child on her lap is posing; is she is a volunteer or a refugee, is it a staged scene for the media that the photographer captures, or does the photographer himeslef set the scene? Or has it just happened? 

Is it the same woman who desperately tries to carry the boy from the boat? Isn't the world watching?

The possible answer comes with Andrea Bonetti’s photographs of acts of kindness; an apple, a blanket, a hug, shared by the volunteer and a person just arrived by  boat; the division between “you” and “them” is leveled out.     

The duration of “fleeing” indefinitely prolonged, levels down the difference between normality and “crisis”,  opening up human imagination in unexpected ways. The snippets of everyday life, which start in the Middle Eastern refugee camps and end in the squats of abandoned factories in Europe, are captured by Dimitris Bouras, exactly to open up our imagination to a more complex understanding of the depth of the person.

Among the images of make-shift homes, wedding parlors, and bakeries, the photograph of a woman in a black dress and red jacket, who gracefully carries the canister of water, apart from trash container and yellowish water pond, nothing that can give us a clue of its exact location. All but her gracious pose, that carries the history of the person, or rather frees the person from the history at ground.  

In a few pages, almost the same woman reappears, with the same grace strolling though the deserted pathways of the camp, with the black umbrella.

History of human grace in a frame. History that is interrupted by the wall as event, in Louisa Gouliamaki’s photograph: the chaos of the space and persons comes in one: a border riot, a boy carrying a child,  school bags and tents scattered, photographers running, elderly woman helpless collapsed down. Whose dream is that? What is the place of “safety”? 

The fragility that Yannis Kolesidis is concerned with: the uneasy passage through the streaming river, the arrival of the overcrowded boat, a rainy night in the camp on the rail tracks, a squatted building with the tent inside. So little is required to protect or to destroy the human. Suddenly the photographer emerges as a maker of that history.

John Liakos captures the scattered photographs on the ground, which is more or less the testament of those thousands missing, not only dead at sea but those in the far away countries and cities at war; 

His other image of black figures walking through the morning landscape, allows us to abstract ourselves from the concrete situation and to understand it on the level of universal story. 

The outer feeling of enclosure  becomes Menelaos Myrillas' aesthetic exploration of that inner suffocation: hands touching the roof of a tent, the car window obstructing the face, a container shape box turned into temporary shelter, but even that, as much the life of one “fleeing” is obviously temporary,  and the journey, the track to Europe, requires repetition of overcoming yet another wall, border, fence. 

The tracks, be it railroad tracks or tracks made by the thousands of human feet, come as  a repetitive focus in Nick’s Paleologos photographs.

The “fleeing” itself becomes a space. This space is marked by the materials and objects: the inflatable boat, life-jacket, thermal blanket, barb-wire, tent, telling larger stories about the modes of global capitalism.

In Anna Pantelia’s  photographs these objects frame the faces of people in distress, allowing to see the person within this scale of the crisis,

while in Fotis Plegas’ images, the materials and persons are enshrouded in shadows, in darkness, in double frame, that allow to distance ourselves from the media-produced emotions, and give a necessary time for reflection. 

Orestis Seferoglou’s photography, chooses in yet another vector: here it is water, forest, grass, that is nature which surrounds human produced camps, track and walls that surround the refugee in European imagination.

"This is how one pictures the angel of history.  His face is turned toward the past.  Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe that keeps piling ruin upon ruin and hurls it in front of his feet.  The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed.  But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them.  The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."  [Walter Benjamin, Ninth Thesis on the Philosophy of History]

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