At the Centro Astalli Sud in Naples, refugees and asylum seekers find shelter, meals, legal and medical assistance. Most of the occupants have made their journey from Lybia to Sicily, where those registered are sent to various centres in Italy. The Centro Astalli Sud is one of these. Spending some time at the centre, I got to learn some of their stories, experiences and aspirations.
The most common experience is the painful ordeals of an existence in terrible poverty or one where there is no way out but to flee because of conflict and war. Today, they are dealing with the emotional scars of having left their home and families and the anxiety of an uncertain future. For some, the added trauma of being victims of torture, hate crimes and violence makes the limbo state a greater stress.
There is a great divide between those that have just arrived and those that have already being at the centre for a while. The effect of the traumatic journey at sea and the vivid images and feelings of what they went through in their countries is quite evident in their eagerness to speak, just so to release their energy and need for comfort.
Those that have been in the centre and in Italy for some time l are more withdrawn and anxious about their future and livelihood. The stress of not knowing is palpable and so is their need to take hold of their lives. For many this answer is not so reachable.
The Opening of ‘HATE HURTS’ Photography Exhibition on the 12th May at the Cultural Centre Asteria in Milan was marked with a Talk Event organised by perdirittiumani.com (for human rights) with invited guest speakers Paolo Pobbiati, Spokesman for Amnesty International Italy and myself photojournalist.
The event had a great turn out. Alessandra Montesanto from PerDirittiUmani set the Talk off with a question about the meaning of the words opening a slide presentation ‘Hate Hurts: to understand, to document and to change’.
I explained that these words are very connected to the way I do my work and to what I believe photojournalism’s work should do. The main objective being presenting it to the wide public and in particular those in power to make positive changes for the issues being told. The work as being a channel for this to happen or a catalyst towards this to happen through an increased awareness.
In the process I am looking at ways that most effectively work for this purpose. Being present in Centro Asteria to show ‘Hate Hurts’ and the stories of hate crimes victims through a photography exhibition and talking about the issue in the Cultural Centre Asteria belongs to this very process.
Some highlights were very interesting thoughts on the dynamics built around hate crimes. Members of the public suggested that one of the causes is being an increasing nationalism or perceived nationalism in Europe. I cannot but agree that extreme right wings getting stronger support in Europe has ties with a political discourse based on the idea that we need to defend our national identities and borders from the ‘invasion’ of refugees and migrants. Even if, these are not the result of thorough research, they are irresponsibly presented as facts.
Paolo Pobbiati showed a recent compiled research from Amnesty of countries that have taken the most of refugees. These were mostly from outside of Europe: Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, which gave another perspective to the refugee crisis.
During the course of the evening, photographs from the photography project ‘Hate Hurts’ were projected and I was asked to run a commentary on some of the people’s stories represented in the photographs. The stories highlight the plight of victims of hate crimes looking at its various forms from psychological crimes, verbal and physical. Many of the photographs also showed the extend of the silent pain going through thousands of refugees and migrants in a state of bureocratic and political limbo.
The photography exhibition ‘Hate Hurts’ continues to the 26th May 2016 at the Centro Asteria, Milan.
As my project on hate crimes in Europe is expanding in Europe, I am pleased to say that the Cultural Centre Asteria in Milan is hosting an exhibition of this photography project. Alongside the exhibit there will be a Talk event organised by the human rights association Per i Diritti Umani (for the human rights) on ‘Hate Speech and Hate Crimes’. The Speakers are the Spokesman for Amnesty International Italy and myself.
Piazzale Francesco Carrara, 17
Opening of the Exhibition and Talk Event on the 12th May 7pm.
The exhibition continues from the 12th May to the 19th May.
I am very pleased to present in collaboration with Amnesty International Greece a solo exhibition in Athens. During the opening on the 21st March there will be a panel discussion on the issue of hate crimes with Amnesty, UNHCR and myself. ‘Hate Hurts’ is a photography projects that captures the rising racism in Europe through the stories of pepole that have fallen victim to hate crimes. It captures a dark history, which has imposed substantial physical and mental hardship on vulnerable victims. This is an ongoing project which will focus in different countries in Europe.
On the 18th January I took part of the first PhotoScratch event at the Hotel Elephant in London. The idea of the event was to exhibit work in progress and ask for feedback on its progression from members of the public. Those that came to the show were given feedback forms. It was a lovely and very interesting evening. I received amazing and thoughtful feedback. Thank you!
Photomonth photo-open exhibition opened last Thursday the 5th November at the Rich Mix. I am very pleased to say that three of my photographs from ‘Hate Crimes; Another Europe’ are exhibiting alongside an interesting selection of photographs’Telling Stories’ from around the world. This is the first time that I am exhibiting ‘Hate Crimes; Another Europe’ project and the response has been awesome.
The show will continue to the 28th November, daily from 10 am to 10 pm at the Rich Mix gallery. I hope many of you will be able to see it.
Rich Mix, 34-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch E1 6LA
An Other Europe is a collection of photo stories that expose the increasing number of hate crimes.
This summer, I was invistigating the increasing number of hate crimes among the refugee communities in Greece. This experience has touched me deeply and has led me to began a long term project based on a series of photo documentaries that is capturing the lives of those that have sought refuge in Europe and have become victims of hate crimes.
I am very pleased that my initiative is supported by Per i Diritti Umani, an Italian organization working for human rights advocacy, http://www.peridirittiumani.com/ which will be publishing and hosting a regular newsletter about this ongoing photo project on their pages.
Pleased that a selection of photographs from ‘The Other Half’ series is part of PhotoMonth this October 2015. The photographs will be showing at the Old Truman Brewery in London part of PhotoMasters – PhotoBlock 2015.
Three photographs from my Transitional project is showing at the Photo Fringe 2014 / Collectives’ Hub. Our exhibition is called Where We Stand / v.2. We are a group of colleagues who recently graduated from LCC’s MA in Photojournalism and Documentary photography. The photographs that I choose to exhibit belong to my series on people living in temporary accommodations: B&B, hostels and emergency shelters.
Photograph at 7th Floor, Vantage Point, New England Road, Brighton, BN1 4GW. Where We Stand / v.2 has the work by Monica Alcazar Duarte, Jamie Clark, HannaKatrina Jedrosz, Jenny B Mulder, Phil Le Gal, Rob Stothard, Ross Paxton, Omur Black.
Some of you may have followed the story of a Boston homeless man. Glen James that finds a backpack with money and travellers cheques worth nearly $42,000 and hands it over to the policehttp://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-boston-homeless-man-reward-20130919,0,4947392.story. The gesture prompted the police of Boston to honour the man and to hail his honesty. This remarkable event made a great impression on a marketing accounts manager, Ethan Whittington of Virginia. He wanted to do something for Glen James and set up a campaign to raise fundings for him http://www.gofundme.com/4by2as. The campaign has had a widespread support. The story is remarkable. But what I find even more remarkable and touching are these words which Glen James has written on the go fund pages.:
“On a serious note; I don’t think there is a real cure for the multiple of homeless people, because their problems go far beyond a simple lack of housing, but the problems of the homeless could be managed far better.
There really isn’t much difference between homeless and non-homeless people as we would like to think, but you would only find that out if you couldn’t make next months rent and truly have no where to go, but the streets… ”
In my view these two phrases touch various and important aspects on the issue of homelessness. On one level the argument is directed to policy makers and so there is the suggestions that the issue needs to be tackle in a better way. I am not a policy maker and I don’t have at hand all the knowledge and the complexity of this issue, but as a photographer working on a project on people living in transitional state and marginal living as homeless, I have learned that there is definitely a need to reach out to those in housing difficulty in a more tangible way. The other level that Glen is mentioning is directed to us. There is a need to look at our stereotyped ideas that we have on homeless people. And it goes even deeper, because today the gap between homeless and non homeless are not great. These words remind us that first and foremost a homeless person is just as everyone else.