Your documents don’t determine who you are—but they certainly have a lot to say about where you can go.
For example, when you enter a refugee camp, it doesn’t take too much time to understand that the only thing that matters there are your documents. Indeed, your nationality alone can make all the difference between liberating freedom and indefinite imprisonment.
So it is due to passports—pieces of paper, really—that all the refugees coming into Europe are forced into such desperate, awful, life-threatening journeys.
In Gevgelija, a Macedonian border town next to Greece (also known as the “Macedonian Las Vegas”), there is a short path that runs from the recently set up refugee camp to the outskirts of town. All of the refugees who are allowed to enter Macedonia have to pass by that track, through the fields. That path is a limbo between Greek bureaucracy and Macedonian bureaucracy.
Along that path, every day, temporary Greek documents are thrown away along with lists of names, maps and asylum requests. Immediately after leaving the country (Greece) that issued them these documents, the refugees return to clandestine status. Their identities have to be confirmed again and again in every country they enter.
This series shows all the papers left behind by those making their way through Europe. A no-man’s land of forgotten, lost, temporary identities, all discarded on the path towards a new, and hopefully better life.
—Eugenio Grosso, Alexander Strecker