Google Earth is a computer program that renders a simulacrum of the Earth by superimposing images obtained through satellite footage, aerial photographs, and geographic information system. Although the imagery is frequently updated, the program also offers a ‘real-time’ viewing, wherein the sunlight changes across the landscape relative to the current time of day.
The presented footage shows an area of international waters in the Mediterranean Sea between the coast of Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa– the closest European landmass to North Africa. Despite the apparent ‘authenticity’ of the program to represent the Earth, it fails to map the seas and only charts the landmass. A computer generated animation is inserted in place of all seas and oceans away from shorelines. Here the sea is always calm, waves infinitely moving in a soft breeze, devoid of any landmarks or maritime traffic, a simulacrum based on projection rather than veracity.
The bench is made of wood retrieved from the boats used by migrants and refugees who crossed the Mediterranean Sea and arrived in Lampedusa. Installed together in one space, the two components demonstrate two very different versions of the sea and question the hierarchies of digital and physical experience while confronting the correlation between spectatorship and participation. By transforming the sea into a serene image, Google Earth does not only aestheticize it, but it in fact depoliticizes it; in this way, the Mediterranean Sea is just a water mass, not an area with national jurisdiction, and in fact the European border.
The central Mediterranean route between the coast of Libya and Italy is currently the deadliest route used by migrants and refugees in the world. Already in 2017 over 60,000 people crossed this part of the sea in order to reach Europe and more than 1700 have died. This number is likely much higher due to the undocumented capsized boats and the unaccounted bodies that wash up on the Libyan coast.
Stack of A4 sheets of paper connected on one side, 2017
Installation images from Odious Smell of Truth by RAGE Collective, Hockney Gallery, RCA, London, April 2017
The Dublin Regulation, officially called Regulation (EU) No 604/2013, is a European Union law that determines which EU member state is responsible for examining and processing asylum seekers applications asking for international protection. While it takes into account circumstances such as health or family ties a person might have in other member states, its primary principle is that the first country an asylum seeker enters is responsible for processing the claim. The law was adopted to eliminate extensive bureaucracy between member states and to speed up the asylum process. Yet, by forcing people to register and remain in the first county they enter, it has created a network of unsafe travel routes and encourages people smuggling throughout Europe.
Half a mile from Lampedusa
Cyanotype print on paper, 2017
On October 3rd, 2013 a boat carrying over 500 migrants and refugees from the Libyan coast to the Italian island of Lampedusa capsized ½ mile from its destination. 368 people died in the tragedy that sparked global outrage and led to the launch of a year-long Operation Mare Nostrum. In order to retrieve the bodies of those who drowned, Italian navy sent in divers to assess the scale of the operation who recorded a video footage of the scene underwater. The cyanotype is an image from this footage.
Mediterranean Sea Stream
Google Earth "real-time" video stream with text, Battersea Bridge Road, London, 2017
Jungle 2013-2016 comprises of aerial satellite footage of the refugee camp known as the “Jungle” in Calais, France over the period of 3 years. The camp has seen a massive influx of migrants and refugees in the recent years, who traveled there in hopes of crossing the Channel into Britain. The camp with its appalling living conditions has often been spotlighted in the media. Threatened with closure multiple times, the camp was eventually destroyed and its residents evicted at the end of October 2016.
24 Hours at Aegean
24 archival inkjet prints in continuous 4x6 grid, 2016
24 Hours at Aegean centers on the sea crossing in the Aegean Sea, between the coast of Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos. After the outbreak of Syrian civil war, the sea crossing became the most frequented route for migrants and refugees attempting to reach Europe until the introduction of the EU-Turkey deal that led to a halt of most crossings. Obtained through Google Earth imaging software and formed by 24 individual photographs, the work depicts one day at the sea.
From Tripoli to Lampedusa on July 8
Performance in collaboration with Kominek Gallery during Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, France 2016
The performance is a virtual journey from the coast of Libya to the Italian island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea using Google Earth’s real time imaging feature. Sheets of photographic paper were exposed throughout the journey and were then printed in the traditional darkroom method using water from the Mediterranean Sea as a substitute for all water traditionally used in the process.
9/11 Compensation fund
Single channel video projection on glass panel & Found photograph from Flickr (taken and uploaded on September 9, 2011), 2015
9/11 Compensation Fund is a work reflecting on the mechanisms of the monetary value of human life. The installation is informed by the report of September 11th Victim Compensation Fund that was set up to provide compensation for any individual who was physically injured or killed as a result of the attacks. While there were many factors determining the final sum, the most crucial one was the individual's income. The final amounts that were then awarded (2880 in total for individuals killed) ranged from $250,000 to over $7,000,000.
Two Weeks in August
Archival inkjet print triptych, 2015
Two Weeks in August is a body of work inspired by the events that took place during the first two weeks of August 2014 in the USA, when 7 unarmed men across the United States died at the hands of the police.
Seventeen found videos
Seventeen Found Videos is a body of work exploring the issue of police involved deaths in the United States. Although no official data is being recorded, the available information suggests, that the United States has the highest number of officer involved shootings out of any developed country in the world. The photographs are screen grabs from publically available videos collected throughout the year that depict these incidents in the year 2014. The videos were recorded either by civilians’ cell phones, security cameras, dashboard cameras and body cameras worn by the police officers. Despite the recorded ‘evidence’ none of the videos led to criminal charges against any of the officers.