César Dezfuli セザール・デズフリ
Every year thousands of people try to cross the Mediterranean Sea from the African coast to Europe. In the summer of 2016, César Dezfuli spends three weeks on board the Iuventa, a former fishing boat operated by the German NGO Jugend Rettet, where he witnesses the rescue vessel assist people risking their lives on the central Mediterranean migration route, the overseas crossing from Libya to Italy.
On August 1st, 118 people were rescued from a rubber dinghy drifting 20 nautical miles off the coast of Libya. Dezfuli photographs all the passengers on the boat minutes after their rescue, in an attempt to attach names and faces to this reality, to humanise this tragedy. Shortly afterwards, the migrants disembark in Italy, in the Sicilian port of Pozzalo.
The desire to document the reality of migration, to reclaim identities that remain invisible behind the statistics, leads Dezfuli to a second stage: the stories of the protagonists of the project must be told. He undertakes a search for the 118 passengers to find out why they left their countries, what they experienced on the migration route, and how they continued their lives after being rescued at sea.
We find migrations due to political, economic or sentimental issues; people dragged by the inertia of migratory routes, escaping family conflicts, or driven by the simple and human ambition to travel. Both meditated and improvised choices. Through their steps, we trace the paths from different African countries to Libya, and the human rights violations committed there.
Their testimonies also reveal the reality they face in Europe. They show, among other aspects, how slow governments are in responding to asylum requests. This inertia slows down integration into society, as applicants are forced to wait passively, often for several years. Silence and the rejection of asylum applications force them to keep on moving within the European continent.
Where people end up is often the result of language skills, a network of acquaintances, word of mouth about job opportunities in a certain place, or chance. Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands are some of the stop-over countries. Many also stay in Italian reception centres, waiting for their situation to be regularised.
In ‘Passengers’, Dezfuli documents these people’s stories in order to build empathy and understanding, and to create a documentary corpus to serve as a reference and help prevent the plight of migrants from being forgotten.
César Dezfuli セザール・デズフリ
Born in 1991 in Madrid, Spain. Journalist and documentary photographer whose work often explores themes related to migration, identity, and human rights. Since 2015, his focus is on the migratory movements at the borders of Europe, with a special focus on the Central Mediterranean migration route. He is a frequent contributor to De Volkskrant and Le Monde newspapers, while his work has also been published in various other media such as The Guardian, Time Magazine, or the BBC. His work has been recently recognized with the World Press Photo 2023, European Region winner, as well as with other awards such as the Sony World Photography Awards or the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Part of individual or collective exhibitions worldwide, his work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery (UK); the Museum of Sydney (Australia); or Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (USA), among others.
Almudena Javares アルムデナ・ハヴァレス
Independent curator, artistic programmer and cultural manager, based in Spain. Master in Management of International Cultural Projects (Université Paris VIII) and Master in Literary Studies (Universidad Complutense de Madrid). She has developed her professional career as an artistic programmer, curator and cultural manager in multidisciplinary spaces, projects and festivals in various parts of Europe and Latin America. She worked with Fundación Contemporánea and La Fábrica (Spain) in the festivals and exhibitions department, from where PHotoEspaña is developed. She was part of the coordination team for projects such as Noche de los Libros (Madrid), the Fête du Livre de Var (France), the Eñe Madrid Festival and the Eñe América Festival. She was in charge of the art programming of the Buenos Aires University cultural center and she collaborated in AECID programs. She was also part of different non-governmental organizations focused on culture, gender and human rights. She has worked as a freelance curator on different photography, art, performing arts, and literature projects in Spain, Argentina, among others. She is currently immersed in the world of museology and museum curators.