Castro Garcia began the project in 2015 in response to the imagery used in the media to discuss the issue of migration. He felt existing coverage was “sensationalist, alarmist and was not giving people the time and consideration they deserved. I wanted to approach the subject from a calmer perspective, using photography as a means of meeting the people at the centre the crisis face to face – and of learning something about their lives.”
He travelled across Europe visiting key areas that are most affected by refugees and migration: Italy, where they arrive from North Africa; the Balkans and Greece, arriving via Turkey from the Middle East, and finally to the migrant camp in Calais, ‘The Jungle’. The first result of his photographs was an acclaimed book ‘Foreigner: Migration into Europe 2015–2016’, which he self-published last year with creative partner designer Thomas Saxby. As he says of the book: “We wanted to remove it from a one-off news reportage and get a more in-depth look at people’s lives.”
Since then it was important to Castro Garcia that this project was ongoing, and he stayed in contact with several of the people he had photographed, following their movements and supporting their progress. The ‘Foreigner’ exhibition will present a selection of images from the book, but also new portraits, interviews and film footage taken in the past couple of months. In the main room there is a focus on still portraits that represent personal stories from the three regions visited – Sicily, Greece and Calais. It is this personal and intimate approach to the stories of migrants and refugees that make the project so powerful. We see a group of men playing cards in Calais, the central figure’s gaze calmly looking out at us, or a pair threading each other’s eyebrows in the late afternoon sun. His portraits of people like Madia from Senegal feel much more like a collaboration, as he poses with the improvised red netting over his head, fixing us with a stare that belies his traumatic journey. On the reverse of the still portrait is projected a filmed interview of Madia, his testimony and ‘eulogy’.
The second part of the exhibition will be more recently shot footage from the three regions showing the people and places he photographed, and now interviewing them about their journeys and current situation. It includes footage of the sea, and the eerie shipwrecked boats in Lampedusa where the journeys began, moving to the dramatic snowy foothills of Mount Etna where he is reunited with Aly, nicknamed “Gucci” from Senegal. These are personal journeys which for many are either ongoing or have come for now to a halt, but the overriding memory remains that there are many who have not made it this far.
Daniel Castro Garcia is a London based photographer and film-maker. He studied Spanish and Latin American Literature at University College London and after graduating went on to work as an Assistant Director in the UK film, commercial and music video industry. Alongside this profession Daniel developed his photography practice. In May 2015 Daniel started the photography project “Foreigner: Migration into Europe 2015-2016” in collaboration with John Radcliffe Studio partner Thomas Saxby, which was subsequently made into a photobook. In October 2016, “Foreigner: Migration into Europe 2015-2016” was shortlisted for the Paris Photo Aperture Foundation First Book Award.
This is the 11th edition of BJP’s International Photography Award, and the thirs consecutive year it has been hosted by TJ Boulting. A leading showcase for contemporary photographic talent, recent winners include Dominic Hawgood, Juno Calypso, Felicity Hammond, Chloe Dewe Mathews and Edmund Clark. This year’s judging panel included photographer Nadav Kander; Brett Rogers, director of The Photographers’ Gallery; Michael Mack, founding director of Mack Books; Simon Bainbridge, BJP’s editorial director; Chantal Webber, founder of agency and gallery Webber Represents, and Hannah Watson, director of TJ Boulting and Trolley Books.
This year’s award is partnered with Metro Imaging who provide £5000 of production costs, and WeTransfer who will feature the work on their homepage, reaching an audience of around 80 million people worldwide.