Public accounts on the 2015 European refugee crisis covered the issue through an individualizing gaze placed on the refugee subject. The refugee in suffering, an experience witnessed by us all, as a spectacle, from the distance: Images of crowded tents, boats carrying overflowing numbers of people, children dying on Mediterranean shores. Trace turns the gaze outwards, scrutinizing the “space” of the crisis in which people seek refuge.
On the one hand, there is the everyday of the “space.” The ordinary Greek island life (Lesvos) with not much to do in the early hours of the day, with people anchoring their fishing boats, some going for a swim, some strolling for a walk. A serene, pictorial, postcard-like place, which makes it intolerable to imagine that thousands of people were daily arriving, not that long ago, on the island’s shores. On the other hand, the presence of the refugees is no longer a sine qua non presence. The space of the island changed from hosting refugees’ presence to hosting their absence.
Trace figuratively marks the absence of the refugee crisis by symbolically creating a visual topography of the refugee crisis, seen through the space containing the crisis and juxtaposed to narrative accounts of people involved in the crisis.
Trace is an independent documentary project. It was filmed in 2017, in the Greek islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios; in Athens, Greece; Oxford, United Kingdom and Toronto, Canada.
A documentary by Raluca Bejan & Ioan Cocan.