Giorgos Moutafis

The Sea Borders

When I got my first camera, I felt really proud. I dreamed that it would be the passport which would let me escape from everyday life, to meet new people and shoot remarkable landscapes. Until then, words like ‘refugee’ and ‘immigrant’ had been unknown to me.

At the beginning of 2008, I decided to go to Patras, a city located 200 km away from Athens, where thousands of immigrants live in unacceptable conditions with the hope to squeeze into a ship or a truck going to Italy, in order to continue their journey to the west. I lived for many weeks with them, and they allowed me to enter their lives. Lives full of violence and harassment.

I was so shocked with what I saw that I decided to start a project about the immigration traffic in Europe. I just felt the need to discover what it feels like to risk even your life while trying to pass the borders.
I stayed for days in many places along the Turkish coast and on several Greek islands, and I saw people living like frightened animals, bearing inhuman conditions, and aiming only to continue their journey. I saw a lot of families in the middle of the night trying to enter Europe in tiny plastic boats, people carrying strong hope among dead bodies in the sea.

I was an eyewitness of all these incidents and I felt that it is my duty towards all these people who let me follow their lives to narrate their stories out loud.

Giorgos Moutafis

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