Refugees and immigrants arriving to Europe are sidelined from day one, forced to survive on the edges of the First World, facing razor wires and hostile attitudes. Contemporary nomads with no sense of arrival, their fate echoes the age-old story of constant movement in today’s liquid global society.
Wars, famine, poverty and climate change continue to drive people out of their homes, communities, countries, to the unknown. They join millions who are already on the move, constantly, restlessly, occupying spaces on the margins of the first world. Continously interacting with their surroundings and the landscape they encounter along the way, they leave their mark, however elusive. From subtle signs in the forest undergrowths to discarded blankets to makeshift food stalls. This new and unexpected human presence is transforming the environment inhabitated and organized long ago, even if it’s just a for a day, a week or a month, as they keep moving through the landscape scarred by walls and fences, running, hiding and then running again.
In 2015 and 2016, I covered the refugee crisis as it was unfolding in various European countries. Gradually, the news coverage became a backdrop for thousands of human stories, tales of fear and despair but also hope and resilience, among new divisions and borders brought by rapidly deteriorating political climate.
Instead of following the routine of descriptive and news oriented work that we’ve seen again and again, this issue deserves more comprehensive approach. From the dynamics of landscape transformations along established migration routes and traces of migrant presence, to immigration enforcement and structures of control, to information and disinformation, illusions of threat and propaganda spread by local and state authorities or various groups of interest. From refugees and immigrants settling in their new homes to those forced to survive outside organized humanitarian assistance, braving cold winters and hostile attitudes.
They will continue to come. It’s just a matter of time. With new conflicts sparked by shrinking arable farmland and desertification, depleted fisheries and climate change, millions of refugees and migrants will arrive in Europe in decades to come. Eventually, they will join our children and grandchildren in shaping its future.
About Dawid Zieliński
Dawid Zieliński is a freelance documentary photographer focusing mostly on social and environmental issues. He lives in Kraków, Poland. He first became interested in social documentary in 2013 and started Near East, his long-term, ongoing exploration of landscape transformation in EasternPoland.
In 2015 and 2016 Dawid started covering European refuge crisis, travelling to Turkey,Greece, Balkan states and Hungary numerous times. The resulting work was awarded highly acclaimed Grand Press Photo of the Year Award 2016 in his native Poland as well as Pictures Of the Year International and NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism awards in 2017. He then gradually shifted his interest from news-related reporting to taking a critical look at the consequences and long-term impact of migration, the still ongoing work is collectively known as Foreign Landscape.
His recent work also includes Lasting Grievance, an investigation into forced resettlement of minority communities in Poland after World World II and its contemporary consequences. He’s been working as a contributing photographer for Magazyn Kontakt since 2016. [Official Website]
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