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5-10 MAY, 2020

Exibition opening story

In May 2018 I spent five days in the vast, deserted southwest of the island Rhodes. The beaches are shallow and the land sparsely populated. On a stretch of beach less than two hundred meters long, I discovered dozens of sandals, shoes, and flip flops. Many of them were very tattered and I was unable to spot a complete pair. I, who grew up on the sea, first thought of particular currents, which could have been responsible for the flotsam. But then why only shoes? On the sole of a sandal I saw the imprint "Made in

Syria", which offered up an explanation, albeit a speculative one. A shallow, uninhabited beach would be an ideal spot for the undiscovered beaching of refugee boats, whether coming from Turkey or even Libya. Over three days I photographed these finds. Then I left the island. Other Greek islands such as Kos were exposed as migration hotspots in 2015. The subsequent EU agreements with Turkey and Libya changed the preferred migration routes. Rhodes was a narrow and temporary branch of the migratory flow to Western Europe. The shoes that the refugees presumably lost when they landed on the island are traces of a transition from escape to arrival. Like all my photographs, I also show these found objects in a negative image mode that seems to diagnostically objectify these overlooked pieces. Zurich, July 2019