Alan uses a camera obscura to photograph migrants in Europe, who are rendered invisible by their unresolved immigration status and the EU’s inability to decide upon a cooperative and coordinated response to the migrant crisis
The camera obscura is a centuries-old technique that here leaves the person obscured, while the background remains in clear focus.
Using a camera obscura, Alan has photographed migrants who appear as blurry figures against European urban environments that remain clearly in focus. By using this creative approach, he seeks to draw attention to the individual human beings suffering as a result of a “not in my back yard” mentality among EU member states.
Desperate to escape wars, political oppression, the effects of global warming or extreme poverty in their native lands, migrants have been entering Europe in significant numbers in recent years. Often, European nations bear some responsibility for the circumstances that have devastated these people’s lives.
The EU has failed to agree a coordinated response to the migrant crisis. In the absence of legal modes of entry into the bloc, migrants are forced to resort to life threatening journeys, often at the hands of unscrupulous human traffickers.
The bloc has no system through which member states can share responsibility for hosting migrants in a fair manner. As a result, they quarrel with one another over which of them should host the asylum seekers and other migrants.
The lack of cooperation within the bloc and with third parties is causing unacceptable loss of life, distress to asylum seekers trapped in limbo while they wait for a resolution of their immigration status, and political instability within member states.
The camera obscura method that Alan is using is difficult to control, introducing an element of chance into the creative process that corresponds to the refugees’ uncertain circumstances. The images are recorded on film, so that the outcome is unknown, just as the individuals cannot know what the future holds for them.
Obscura is produced in collaboration with Platforma, the Arts and Refugees Network.
Alan has travelled to Calais and Vienna and will continue to document refugees in other European cities.
Over 25 years after the ceasefire between the Polisario Front and Morocco, the Western Sahara still awaits the referendum that will determine its fate – independence, or unification with Morocco.
In the second instalment of Homeland Lost, Alan Gignoux looks at how the Saharawi of Western Sahara have been affected by occupation and displacement.
The ancient mountain forests of Appalachia are being felled. What remains is an eerie, barren, and lunar landscape of rough-hewn rock. In Appalachia: Mountaintops to Moonscapes, Alan Gignoux witnesses the devastating effects of mountaintop removal in America’s coal heartland.
Environmentalists have called the exploitation of the Oil Sands in Northern Alberta “one of the biggest global warming crimes in history.” And yet, the industry continues to thrive.
Oil Sands looks at the environmental damage, the booming local economy, and the ever-changing fortunes of the Albertan people. Speaking to people from across society, Alan asks them all one simple question: are the Oil Sands a blessing or a curse?