Lesvos Artifacts, Lost and Found
02.02.2016. Tamara and I arrived on the island of Lesvos, Greece. Before we met any refugees, an NGO worker brought us out to the coast to show us where many boats had arrived and to bring us up to date to the current situation on the island. The situation would shift from week to week due to weather and political decisions. At the time, the refugees were briefly staying at Moria, the main camp, before being sent on to Athens where they would continue to make their way north.
Camera in hand, I wandered away from the other two as they continued to talk. I noticed a rubber boot, buried in dry seaweed on the shore. Then a red cardigan, embedded in the coastline. One lone finger of a glove, sticking out between leaves.
Who wore these items? Did they make it on to shore, or did they lose their lives to the Mediterranean Sea? Where are their families and who is remembering their lives now?
How many more will attempt this treacherous journey, paying the price of wars waged and papers signed at faraway international summits?
These photos are a small tribute to the men, women, and children who wore these items before they were swept away.
photos & reflections by Talitha Brauer
a poem penned in response by louis hemmings
the red cotton-cloth fold-crumpled,
sandwiched by seaweed, buckled:
a surrealist, grand piano toy,
scale-stumbled by girl or boy:
right-angled, eccentric keyboard,
tinny classical tune with discord.
under photo, cryptic catalogue note;
beach deliverance, or death by boat?
who knows that young child’s fate?
unpromising pilgrimage, desperate;
fearful families walking on waves,
a few firmly believe faith will save…
The Lesvos Artifacts is part 6 of an ongoing series of photo essays, From North to South. Find the first story here.
In December 2015 I (Talitha Brauer) received a call from documentary filmmaker Tamara Park, asking me to accompany her on a three week trek from north to south, starting in Finland and ending in Greece. We met and interviewed Syrian and Iraqi refugees who had fled their homes in hopes of beginning a new life in Europe.