The night of New Years Eve 2011 a car bomb exploded in front of the Coptic Orthodox church of Saint Mark and Pope Peter in Alexandria – Egypt. That same year, reflecting upon this tragic event, photographer Linda Dorigo and journalist Andrea Milluzzi decided to start a journey in search of the last remaining Christian communities of the Middle East; a religious minority that is often the target of hate crimes.
Historically this region was the cradle of Christianity and, at the time of the Roman Empire, it was the centre of the Christian world. Cities like Alexandria, Antioch (the current Antakya, the seat of the Hatay Province in Turkey) and ancient Constantinople used to stand out beside Rome.
Nowadays the presence of Christians in these areas is extremely fragmented. The number is estimated to be around 15 million believers counting both locals and immigrants. This number however is decreasing substantially and some of these groups risk disappearing in the near future.
Linda Dorigo, together with Andrea Milluzzi, travelled through nine countries in two years, two months and ten days. She lived in the villages of the ancient inhabitants of Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. She spent entire days with the protagonists of her photographs, slept in their houses to be able “to tell in the most truthful way the condition, the fear and the beauty of their daily lives, the small things that encourage these thousand years old communities to, despite all the obstacles, remain in the areas where they originated”.
The result of this journey is a wide reportage and an exhibition consisting of 26 gelatin silver prints of the photographs analogically shot in black and white. A journey back through the centuries that stand between us and our far history accompanied by silences, confessions and confidences, in order to create a route to raise awareness, read from a series of different points of view what is happening in the Middle East and allow the spectator to look into the eyes of the “witnesses” to the origins of our culture.
The exhibition, part of the wider project “Refuge” (which is also the title of the book) invites us to reflect upon our values and help us to discover places and people beyond prejudice and fear. The core narrative that connects all the images together is centered around the concept of “nostalghia” (from the Greek nostalgia “longing for the past”) meant not only as a psychological state of melancholy and regret for the absence of beloved people and places but also as a response to a feeling of impedeing danger on their own identity, typical of whoever has only two choices; to flee or to stay and keep the faith of their origins.
Number and type of prints:
• 4 BW gelatin silver prints
framed • size 70×100 cm
• 19 BW gelatin silver prints
framed • size 40×60 cm
• 9 gelatin silver prints
framed • size 30×40 cm
Didactical Material and Captions:
• 3 quotes, variable size, to be printed or drawn on walls (English • Arabic • Persian)
• 10 laminated copies of the captions for consultation to be printed according to
images sequence (Italian • English)
• 1 introductory text in English (panel size 100×150 cm)
the prints are stored in 2 crates, in Udine (Italy)
Linda Dorigo was born in Italy in 1983. She received a BA degree in Communication Science. She has been focusing her work on the Middle East since 2009 combining social and anthropological reporting with a slow-photojournalism approach. Her research focuses on faith, religions, minorities and on the Earth as not only a place of birth but as the birthplace of family roots. She has contributed to international publications like Le Monde, L’Espresso, Die Zeit, Marie Claire amongst others. She is a member of ODG (Italian Journalist Association). She is currently working on a long term project about Great Kurdistan and Kurdish identity.