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Where The West Sets

Mytilene, Agrilia Kratigou’s beach, Lesbos, March 2017. The photograph shows the thermal image of the coast of Turkey, near Cesme. Thermal devices are used for the patrol and the identification of refugee boats that arrive clandestinely from Turkey.

Where The West Sets, photo essay by Luigi Avantaggiato

In the past few years, international governments, institutions, and media have used the expression “refugee crisis” to describe rising numbers of undocumented individuals and families fleeing to Europe from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, where they face harsh challenges, including war, poverty, persecution, and human rights violations. Hoping to start a new life in Europe and looking for a new identity, thousands of refugees have braved the Mediterranean Sea on board of inflatable boats and makeshift vessels, driven by an idea of Europe as the land where their dreams will be realized. Some of these people decide to cross the sea illegally only to become refugees and to enjoy the benefits of this status.

Where the West Sets is a documentary project that attempts to chronicle this crisis as it plays out on the northern Aegean Islands and in mainland Greece – the same territories where Western Culture and its system of values were born. The aesthetics of my work lies on an approach that had me go to those places not as a reporter looking for facts but as a documentarist trying to verify facts. The series of photographs reflects the consequences that the refugee crisis is having on the cradle of civilization, whereas the traditional value of respecting other human beings is meeting feelings of hostility, fear, and xenophobia among the Greeks.

In the same country that gave birth to philosophy, science and anthropology, people are living among refugees in an uncertain and disordered way, holding tightly to their self- referential and contradictory values, belonging to a Europe that is now diminished but that is frantically trying to redefine its own identity.

(by Luigi Avantaggiato)

Mytilene, Lesbos, March 2017. Tamin Fakti is a 19 years old Pakistan refugee. Many refuges escape from official hotspots to live as squatters inside destroyed building and in crumbling palaces.
Port of Chios, Chios, April 2017. Read, 19 year old from Aleppo, dives from a pier.
Eftalou’s beach, Lesbos, March 2017. In 2016 along this beach many bodies of refugees died during the travel were found. It is now a deserted beach. During a walk in search of the marks of the migration left on the coastal landscape, I ran into this carcass of a dog, who died several months before and was left to rot.
Pedion Areos’ park, Athens, April 2017. A homosexual Arab refugee performs his body to attract customers and to prostitution for a few Euros.
Agrilia Kratigou’s beach, Mytilene, Lesbos, March 2017. A refugee bathing. «I envy you! The water is beautiful and crystalline. Isn’t it cold?» I ask him, during the photoshoot. «Yes. But I have nothing else to do». We laugh together. «What is your name», I ask him. He replies: «That’s not important».
Moria refugee camp, Moria, Lesbos, March 2017. A refugee returns to his tent after taking a shower.
Mytilene, Lesbos, March 2017. Movida on Saturday evening in a nightclub on the city along the sea.
Chios, Chios, April 2017. The refugee camp “Souda” is located inside the archaeological site of the Castle of Chios, built in during the Byzantine era around the 9th century a.C. This installation has damaged the local economy, which lived on tourism.
Mytilene, near the refugee camp of Moria, April 2017. Eirene F. is the owner of a small restaurant: «I’ve never had trouble to fulfil my restaurant. We are a family, we are happy with few things. Today, however, I turn on the fireplace and prepare the coals to cook the fish only when a person enters the room».
Chios, Orthodox cemetery of Agia Markella, April 2017. The tomb of an anonymous refugee found dead in the bay below.
Chios, Orthodox cemetery of Agia Markella, April 2017. The tomb of an anonymous refugee found dead in the bay below.
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Luigi Avantaggiato

Born in Zurich in 1984, Luigi Avantaggiato is a Rome based freelance photographer specialized in documentary, editorial, and portrait work. He started working as… More »

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