Medphoto Festival is a new initiative in the area of photography in Greece. The first Medphoto Festival will take place in Rethymno this summer (June-September), and will host a number of exhibitions and events, that present important works of Greek and foreign photographers.
Group Exhibition “Crossings”, Old Commercial Bank’s building (Old Town)
Rethymno, Crete, Greece
Curators: Giorgos Moutafis, Pavlos Fysakis
Duration: 9 June – 15 July
Artists: Socrates Baltagiannis, Alfredo D’Amato/panos pictures, Dimitris Michalakis, Giorgos Moutafis, Myrto Papadopoulou, Alessandro Penso, Giulio Piscitelli/contrasto, Jerome Sessini/magnum photos, Angelos Tzortzinis, Emilien Urbano, Achilleas Zavallis
The exhibition presents the routes of refugees towards and across Europe. It is hosted in the old Commercial Bank’s building, an aspect that marks the relationship between the recession and the displacement of populations.
The photographs come from the shores of Lesbos, the port of Piraeus, the crossings of immigrants to Africa, the torn-apart Syria, the Calais Jungle, the settlements in Patra and Idomeni, the smugglers’ hotels in Smyrna.
“Migration; always an act of pursuing a better future than the one offered to you, and most often an evil necessity when leaving your war-torn homeland for another country, so as to search for a life in peace. Choosing to live under your own beliefs or love somebody that others may not approve, can also generate a need of leaving “home”. For whatever the reason, the only certainty is that exile, leaving home, will mark your life forever.” - Socrates Baltagiannis
“In 2009, the Green Port of Patras was the home for approximately 3,000 migrants. Most of them were Afghans, although there were also significant numbers of Iranians and Uzbeks. From Patras, they tried to find a way to reach other European destinations by hiding in ships, containers and trucks parked in the port. The lucky ones managed to stay for no long time; others, though, were living in Patras for months and a few for several years.Many used to live in shacks made from cartons, plastic and wood found on the beach. Others found shelter by squatting abandoned buildings without water and electricity. The living conditions were inhumane and unhygienic.Later on, arrivals were staying outside the city centre to avoid police checks. Any illusions they might have had about being granted asylum in Greece soon vanished. The Greek Authorities were routinely rejecting asylum applications from those thus regularly rounding up groups for deportation to Turkey. Some managed to reach Italy by hiding inside trucks, or by tying themselves with straps under the lorries and trailers. The journey was treacherous, and scores of them died during the trip, either suffocating inside trailers or being crushed by trucks.” -Alfredo D’Amato
“Refugees have been arriving in Greece since the beginning of 2000, mainly due to warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq. But what happened this year is unprecedented. According to the UN about 800,000 refugees have made the crossing from Turkey to Greece. Another 3,700 never made it; they have tragically died in the process. The psychological tension due to the mounting influx became an unparalleled experience, one which stigmatized my memory." -Dimitris Michalakis
"I have documented violence, despair and helplessness with my lens more times than I can possibly remember. But I have honestly never seen anything like that before: terrified and beleaguered people trying to cross the borders, children screaming and crying and families being separated between the two countries. Hell by the border." -Giorgos Moutafis
“Stuck in cheap hotels or private houses, migrants wait for the fusion of three decisive factors: the establishment of the right connections, the gathering of the necessary funds and the arrival of the suitable weather conditions, before they can finally embark on the four miles’ trip. Although, the destination may appear to be a heartbeat away at that point, the trip ahead is extremely dangerous and is often fatal.” -Myrto Papadopoulou
“My work in documenting the migration crisis in Europe, has embraced the majority of European countries involved in this situation, particularly those that represent the gateway to Europe and those seen as transit points by thousands of people who are looking for a better life, up to the story of the life conditions of some foreign communities in the very European territory. The crisis of the migration phenomenon is a metaphor of our world and its inequalities. The ways of arrival and reception of migrants and refugees in Europe, demonstrate that in our society freedom of movement and the right to a decent life is not the same for everyone and partly reveal how our society, through these inequalities, is trying to maintain its privileges.” -Giulio Piscitelli