NERA DI VERZASCA AWARD 2016
Giovanna Del Sarto
A Polaroid for a Refugee
Being a refugee is not a choice.
You do not leave your country because you fancy Europe so much, that you are happy to die for it.
You reluctantly leave your country because you want to carry on living, that’s why you are willing to risk everything.
After months reading newspapers, watching TV and listening to different opinions about the Refugee Crisis in Europe, I felt the urge, as a person, to go and witness it.
It happens that I am also a photographer and as such, I took my cameras with me.
However, my aim was to volunteer first, to be able to understand and be close to the people.
In October 2015, I went to Presevo, Serbia. I stayed for 5 days during which I volunteered for Volonteers of Presevo at the info tent (the first contact point among volunteers and refugees who just arrived and needed the registration papers).
In November 2015 and January 2016, I went to Lesvos Island (one of the nearest Greek Islands to Turkish coast) and I volunteered in Moria Camp, Kara Tepe Camp in Mitileni and patrolling the coast in Molovos.
In April, I went to Athens and Idomeni where the humanitarian displacement was greatly tangible.
On all those occasions, I had my Polaroid Land Camera with me and my A Polaroid for a Refugee project started.
It is a very simple project based on the concept of giving. Giving something back to the refugees, maybe a little part of their life captured in an instant. In fact, everyone I photographed has a Polaroid picture now.
I love the idea that they will look at those pictures one day in the future.
The portraits I took are very similar to family portraits. These convey a relaxing and trouble-free attitude that only scratches the surface of the refugee’s life. However this is a unique moment seen by the refugees as an escape, from everything that they are going through.
I got a very positive response from everybody. There are different reasons why people want their portrait taken. For example, young men love to have one just for the fun of posing; mothers love them because they can show the pictures to their kids when they are older and kids ... just a great fun for them.
And for us that we look at the pictures?
Well, we realize that we humans are strong and that even during tragedies we are always proud of whom we are.
Plus, we get the antidote to what we are given by media corporations.
As the situation has been changing due to EU/Turkish meeting, I am planning to go where the situation is still critical in the future.
Polaroid land Camera 30, Colour Fujifilm FP100C