Saved souls. A photo-tale by Elio Carrozza and Luca Daniele

Saved Souls is the title of a project aimed at documenting the arrival of immigrants on the shores of Roccella Jonica over the past few years. The exhibition, featuring photos by Elio Carrozza and Luca Daniele, will be on display at the Photo Gallery “Cine Sud”   in Montepaone Lido until December 3. With their pictures, the two photographers have managed to give voice to all those migrants who decided to leave their domestic horror and look for a safe haven. They are men, women and children, lone figures who share the same courageous attitude and a feeling of attachment to life.

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Their life-stills, which can be said to document the tale of an inner journey within the real journey, are animated by a principle of simplicity, in an attempt to convey a rather urgent message through a feeling of genuine immediacy. The two photographers’ points of view are indeed miles away from the common views of those who think these people are nothing but refugees, illegal aliens, foreigners. Their pictures are testimony to their innermost identity, moulded by strength and weakness, fear and joy.

In Elio Carrozza’s words: “Saved Souls is above all an investigation into the human soul. What is being revealed here is the essence of a walk of life. We have tried to stay clear of both mawkishness and crude realism. Our guiding principle in trying to capture the gestures and underlying feelings of people who are about to begin different lives in a new country was really simplicity.”

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“The people we portrayed never looked down on us as strangers. Luca and I have a background as aid workers, so we already had experience in this field. On many other occasions, our photo reports had been a follow-up to our activity as volunteers, assisting people who had risked their lives in perilous journeys, helping them get off the boats and set foot on land. To be honest, we weren’t really sure what we were after in the beginning: we only knew we wanted to document a reality and were aware that photography was the medium we were most familiar with, therefore the most suitable for this purpose. Only later, when we understood we needed to go further and do much more, did we develop the project in all its facets. Many more immigrants are on their way to our country, and we need to understand them way better than we do now, coming to grips with the fact that the horror they are running from is often one that scares us too”

Awareness of this issue and of the necessity to give back their human dignity to all those who come to us across the sea led us to the 2015 IOVELproject: a non-profit association created by Elio Carrozza, Luca Daniele, Giovanni Torre and Edmondo Di Loreto with a view to use photography and visual arts to support all those projects that deal with the landing of immigrants in the area around Roccella Jonica.

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IOVEL is a cultural association whose main objective is to use culture and positive thinking as means to increase the community’s sensitivity to the issue of immigration, therefore improving our ability to assist migrants and funding better reception solutions.

Saved Souls is the first of many other projects. An ongoing fund-raising campaign is being carried out for the publication of three photographic books to support the exhibition and let it tour around Italy and abroad. The first of the three volumes is an account – through pictures and miscellaneous abstracts – of the landings that have taken place in Roccella Jonica and environs over the past seven years. The second volume will be dedicated to refugee camps near war zones. The third book will contain the stories of ten immigrants who have landed in Roccella and are now living in different parts of Europe.

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“Our original intention – says Luca Daniele – was purely documentary. As we came to know more about these people’s stories though we got wind of a whole new dimension. There is a moderate Islam striving to be heard and running away from the same horror that is troubling Europe today. It is really hard to say who is good and who isn’t, and we certainly do not the necessary resources to even set about such a difficult task. What we mean to do is find a link between all those people who have passed through our territory and moved elsewhere to begin brand new lives, asking us to hallow the strip of land on which they set their feet, which they have come to regard as their way to salvation. Hence “Saved Souls” the title of our project aimed at fueling discussion on these issues without falling prey to run-of-the mill social exploitation. There are so many people who are thankful to the countries and communities who have helped them through their new beginning, so many truths within the broader, greater Truth. The solution to today’s conflicts has to come through knowledge and communication.”