Within the past few years Europe has seen mass human migrations, due to chaos and civil wars all across northern Africa and the Middle-East – Syria especially. Staring Quietly At The Backwash is a sensorial take on analyzing the crisis currently occurring in Europe, where thousands of refugees are trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
Blending photography, video and sound, this project offers different degrees of perception, proposing a different read into the matter. Holiday pictures stand alongside large smiles, cut out portraits of all the European leaders who have been in power since war started in Syria. A close up on the mouth, symbolizing what is said rather than what is done. The emphasis is put on the distance Europe has set from the Middle-Eastern crisis. There is no use of archival images, documents about the refugees, or any clear indication regarding what the subject matter is: it is all suggested and appeals to the subconscious. Willingly non-journalistic, this approach highlights the lack of concrete action being taken in this Europe deemed too passive, where this crisis is experienced as if it was abstract, almost unreal. There is a feeling of uneasiness coming from being misled by the imagery, in reference to the equally misleading news perpetrated by the media. The sea is depicted as an ideal setting, but in reality stages the horrifying and deadly journey refugees have to travel. Instead of associating images of calmness, warm smiles and handshakes, with the familiar and soothing sound of the backwash, the recording of refugees in pain and chaos on their journey points out the drastic distance between what is heard and what is seen – in other words, what is reality and what is fantasy.
Staring Quietly At The Backwash is a metaphorical immersion into the sea: although seemingly calm, it turns out to be a resourceless habitat. All media operate simultaneously, for a little too long, causing discomfort. Looking at human interaction, the project reflects on the repercussions of decisions made by our governments, triggering a certain anxiety towards what seems to be an irrevocable situation. This image of hands shaking shows a spiritual aspect when floating in the sea, comparable to a god-like hand sealing our fate, it also stands for the hand we are incapable to offer our neighbors. This is an immersive piece, a forced encounter between imagination and reality. Viewers are led to give more depth to their reflection, further dimension to their perception, in order to analyze the information they are given instead of judging it hastily. — Ina Lounguine