These moody, blurry black and white photographs are like stills from a mystery movie, or memories from long ago, or perhaps images dredged up from a bad dream. They attempt to grapple with recurring tragedies along the southern coast of Italy, and migrants seeking new lives, only to lose their lives during their torturous journeys.

Here is some real background for the story:

On 3 October 2013, a boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa. It was reported that the boat had sailed from Misrata, Libya, but that many of the migrants were originally from Eritrea, Somalia and Ghana. An emergency response involving the Italian Coast Guard resulted in the rescue of 155 survivors. On 12 October it was reported that the confirmed death toll after searching the boat was 359, but that further bodies were still missing; a figure of “more than 360” deaths was later reported.

A long-term research project on Lampedusa was funded by Fabrica, and involves many people from all walks of life — researchers, writers, interviewers, photographers, documentary filmmakers, politicians, activists, survivors — all trying to come to grips with the contemporary issues surrounding migration and borders, as well as the specific stories around this one particular tragedy.

Cammalleri was a member of this project and together with the journalist Silvia Giralucci, they captured the singularity of Lampedusa, which is far away from the image delivered by the media. Geographically closer to Africa, but politically still Italian, Lampedusa lives a dimension of being not only an isolated island but also a sort of confinement or border, a place of dreams and loneliness.

—Jim Casper