In 2011 I started traveling through North Africa and the Middle East to document the causes and consequences of the uprisings and wars known as the ‘Arab Spring’.
During the battle for Benghazi in Libya, I saw hundreds of men from Bangladesh and from countries in the Horn of Africa trapped in the limbo: fleeing war but unable to find a way home.
In the years following, along the Syrian borders with Turkey and Iraq, thousands of survivors, fleeing from Syrian hell, crowded the tent cities of Bab al Salam and Kawergosk. At the same time, overcrowded boats of refugees were crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Lampedusa and Sicily, in search of a new life.
Whether the riots that ignited across the Arab countries were the beginning of a democratic process or just a brief cry of relief from repressed people is something that only History will tell. The only certainty for now is the striking number of people who have fled the cancer of war and are now forced to wander in limbo between nations. In the last five years, the number of refugees fleeing war and famine has increased dramatically, becoming the largest exodus of the last 70 years.
During all these years I realized how war lays bare the human being, leaving him alone with his primitive emotions of fear, grief, happiness and love — but the strongest feeling I encountered was hope.
A dream is reflected in the eyes of all those who look to the future, since the past has already stolen their lives. The most profound hopes, the dream of escaping war, of living in peace, of having a job and a family, become the real driving force for this journey.
I tried too to see this world from the point of view of all the men and women I met along the path and, only thanks to them, thanks to their acceptance, I was able to develop the empathy that informs this project. I see empathy as the only way to document honestly and intimately the long journey of these people toward hope.
So, looking for iconic and timeless images, I decided to use a handmade camera, built out of cardboard. A pinhole camera – Pinolina – a very basic camera which mirrors the refugees’ condition – they have been reduced to their most basic existence, struggling to survive.
The nightmare — the war with its explosions and its pain — that’s the reality but the dream is pleasant; it coincides with the hope that something – at least for a moment – could change.
In this feeling every person finds refuge, in memories of what has been and in a vision of a future far from complete. During sleep, the mind strays and wanders across a dreamy world.
And then reality, first blurred and then more and more clear.
The real life of millions of people fleeing from conflicts and hunger, who keep ‘feeling’ war because war never really leaves anybody who has experienced it.
The endless waiting, the arrivals, the processing, the camps, and all the kilometers walked along borders, fences and walls of hostile countries. And then for some comes death, overcoming hope, as dozens of people have finished their journey disappearing into the Mediterranean or Aegean Sea.
Despite day after day of mud and tents, all these men and women continue on and fight back. Tired of living the pain, they prefer to return to dream, to recapture even for a moment that hope lost in oblivion. Until reality returns again as the specter of a never forgotten war.
So I realized the cyclical nature of history, which, by going forward, always comes back on itself, reminding us that we are only people.
Refugees fleeing toward an unknown destiny, as in Europe during the Second World War, as in Spain during the Civil War or in Yugoslavia during the Balkan war.
A massive exodus, millions of people trapped in a life they would never choose.
The biography of Fabio Buchareli you can read HERE.
Italian Institute of Culture
The Italian Institute of Culture in Sofia is the cultural official body of the Italian State which aims to promote and diffuse Italian language and culture in Bulgaria. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the reciprocal knowledge the two People and to enhance the cultural collaboration between them, within the context of the relations which they have already established. It operates in synergy with all the other Italian institutions present in Bulgaria and the major Bulgarian institutions.