DAWID ZIELINSKI – WIINER PHEN AWARD PHOTON GRANT 2019

Foreign landscape

(work in progress)

Wars, famine, poverty and climate change continue to drive people out from 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, I became increasingly interested in how their arrival was transforming the landscape. Serving initially as a backdrop for their story, it gradually started to tell its own tale, one of fear and despair but also hope and resilience, among new divisions and borders brought by rapidly deteriorating political climate.

I use the word “landscape” here in a broad and inclusive meaning, because deep down this is a story about people. About individuals and communities experiencing a passage at a turning point in their lives, as well as individuals and communities coming face to face with the “other”, and various consequences arising from it.

Instead of following the routine of descriptive and news oriented work that we’ve seen again and again, I plan to take more comprehensive look at this subject. 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. I want to focus on refugees and immigrants settling in their new homes and ones forced to exist outside organized humanitarian assistance. I’m also interested in local communities in Greece, Hungary, Germany or Poland and how they’re responding to new challenges presented by rising immigration. What are they afraid of? What do they expect? What’s changed?

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