In the summer of 2015, London based photographer Andi Galdi Vinko returned to her hometown, Budapest for a few weeks as the refugee crisis hit its peek with an average of 5,000 people entering Hungary daily. Andi was at the Austrian border when they found a truck with 71 dead refugees. Later she spent days at the Serbian border, walking with families trying to enter Hungary along railway tracks. Stunned by the crisis, Andi was unable to shoot any photos, besides a few on her IPhone. But four months later she returned and created a series of works, composed of a combination of her initial IPhone images and new shots of the landscape, now almost completely empty of any signs of the refugee crisis. Here’s what she tells about the experience.
“Late summer 2015, Hungary. An average of 5,000 migrants enter per day. A country that has never previously seen so many people of different origins. Bad propaganda. Migrants are terrorists. Yes, yes: some are refugees. Bad government. A fence is built to protect the country. To protect the EU. I don’t agree with a fence. I don’t believe in borders. None really cares what I believe in. I’m nobody. I am a migrant. I live in London. Work in Paris. Socialise in New York. I am a photographer.
I saw families, children, young boys running around my homeland hopelessly, full of fears and worries. Everybody was afraid of giving their fingerprints. Something with the Schengen agreement. They left their cloth and garbage all around the landscape. They all just wanted to go to Germany. Nobody really knew what was happening. But everybody had an opinion. Europe will die. Why can’t they enter legally if they are refugees? Why can’t they leave legally if they are migrants? Hungary was in the news everyday. I am Hungarian. I couldn’t take photos although I spent 3 weeks at the border. I am not a photographer.
Four months later more hate and anger. More fences are built. More attacks happen. Life goes on. Life always goes on. Hungary is out of sight. No more migrants. Just empty landscapes. Some posters around the country. “We saved our country.” Good government. Everybody is safe. I don’t feel safe. I still don’t understand. I am an artist.
I went back to the fence. To the border. To see. To understand. Nothing. Some abandoned sleeping bags. Smugglers still work there. Locals still talk about it. Like it is the biggest thing that ever happened in their lives. It is. Nothing ever happened before. I took some photos. And realised it is missing the refugees I saw this summer. So I added my iphone photos from this summer. I actually took some photos this summer. To me they are carved in that landscape forever. You leave your trace on other people. Scars. Memories. News.”