Do migrants have a past? Do migrants have a future? Or are they forever locked in the images of man on sinking boats, of women, babies in their arms, crawling under barbwire, of families waiting in line, stranded in the shadow of borders we thought had forever vanished?
Gabriele Galimberti and journalist Anja Conzett have tried to see things differently. He has learned that these men and women actually had a job where they come from and dream of being able to work in Europe. So when he set out to photograph a group of migrants eager to reach Switzerland but blocked in the city of Como, in northern Italy, he decided to show them as they would have liked to be shown. Dembo as a baker, Osman as a bus driver, Noreen as a nurse and Jafar as policeman. These are just some of works they are used to do and skilled in. But Dembo, Osman, Noreen, Jafar and many others are now living in lurid tents, camping out in a small park adjacent to the city’s station in squalid conditions.
These photos are their CV’s translated in images. Galimberti has borrowed the language of publicity to show what reportage cannot. These photographs are not real. But they should be.
In order to illustrate the enormous chasm between their present and a possible future Galimberti has also done a series of still lifes of where the migrants actually sleep. It’s in the space between these two worlds that the future of Europe will play out.
Text by Paolo Woods, interviews by Anja Conzett