VII | VII Observations

Uncertain Journeys, Lesbos, Greece, 2015

Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII. Uncertain Journeys, Lesbos, Greece, 2015.

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"I felt conflicted about photographing the refugees as they arrived in Greece. I had dozens of colleagues on the beach, and the images that were emerging were largely traumatic and, I argue, alienating to viewers.

As the initial wave of boats approached on my first morning I started taking pictures, though I had to pause and pull back as refugees streamed onto the rocky shore. Some of them wailed, frightened by the journey, though many smiled and laughed, and accepted hugs from volunteers on the beach. I found myself crying, absolutely overwhelmed by the strength of their spirit and courage.

It was a little while later that I watched as volunteer Kadoni Kinan, himself a Syrian refugee that has been living in Belgium for five years, rushed into the frigid waters and pulled this young Syrian boy from an arriving boat. As he reached into the dingy, Kinan said he was moved by the child's smile. ‘It was there that I found my soul.’ Kinan said later.”

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