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Postcards from Europe 03/15
Eva Leitolf: from the series "Postcards from Europe 03/15"

Playa de los Lances, Tarifa, Spain 2009

A boat carrying twenty-three undocumented Moroccan immigrants went down off Tarifa
during a severe storm on 1 November 1988. The bodies of ten who drowned were washed
up on the beach at Los Lances. Nine were never found and there were four survivors.
A vessel with more than thirty people on board sank near Tarifa on 15 September 1997.
Six passengers survived, fourteen corpses were found on the Playa de los Lances and
an unknown number were lost at sea.

El País, 2 November 1988 and 16 September 1997; Diario de León, 9 October 2002

Eva Leitolf »

Postcards from Europe 03/15

Exhibition: – 2 May 2015

Wed 18 Mar 18:30


Place de la Gare 3
1800 Vevey
Wed-Fri 16-19, Sat 11-15

Espace Images

Place de la Gare 3
1800 Vevey

+41(0)21-922 48 54


Wed-Sun 14-18

Postcards from Europe 03/15
Eva Leitolf: from the series "Postcards from Europe 03/15"

Orange Grove, Rosarno, Italy 2010

In January 2010 the price obtained by Calabrian citrus growers for their Moro and Navel
oranges was five euro cents per kilogram. They paid their mostly illegally employed
and undocumented African and Eastern European seasonal workers between €20 and €25 for
a day’s work. Depending on the variety and the state of the trees a worker can pick
between four and seven hundred kilograms of oranges in a day. The business was no longer
profitable and many farmers left the fruit to rot.

During the 2009–2010 harvest there were between four and five thousand migrants living in
and around Rosarno, most of them in abandoned buildings or plastic shelters, without
running water or toilets.

On 7 January 2010 local youths fired an air-gun at African orange-pickers returning from
work and injured two of them. The ensuing demonstration by migrant workers ended in severe
clashes with parts of the local population, during which cars were set on fire and shop
windows broken. Accommodation used by seasonal workers was burned and hundreds fled, fearing
the local citizens or deportation by the authorities.

On 9 January, under police protection from jeering onlookers, about eight hundred Africans
were bussed out to emergency accommodation in Crotone and Bari.

A Season in Hell: MSF Report on the Conditions of Migrants Employed in the Agricultural
Sector in Southern Italy, January 2008; tagesschau.de, 10 January 2010; interviews with

orange farmers and seasonal labourers, Rosarno, 27–29 January 2010

Eva Leitolf
Work from the ongoing archive

Exhibition: 18 March – 2 May, 2015
Opening: 18 March, 6:30 pm

Eva Leitolf started her "Postcards from Europe" project in 2006, assembling photographs and texts touching on examples of conflict in the context of global migration. Leitolf’s interest in the way migrants and refugees are treated within the European Union and at its external borders – in Spain and its North African exclaves, southern Italy, Hungary, the Channel ports of Dover and Calais, as well as Germany and Austria – represents a radical departure from the style of reporting we have become accustomed to. Leitolf’s photographs show scenes where incidents of exclusion, xenophobia and violence have occurred – but empty of people and sometimes without any sign of human civilisation at all. Each of these “eventless” photographs is accompanied by a dry, detached text describing the events to which it refers. Only in the course of reading does it become appa¬rent why the place was worth photographing at all.

Eva Leitolf’s artistic method thus subverts the idea that the medium of photography is universally comprehensible without any prior knowledge, which has existed since the origins of the medium. She challenges both the objectivity attributed to the medium and the belief that photography transports reliable information requiring no further knowledge about the context in which it was created. Furthermore, her approach questions the widely accepted rules and formalisations of media reporting on the concrete and currently omnipresent subject of the fate of refugees. Leitolf resolutely avoids the shock effect of portrayal of violence and instead pursues a photography that studiously ignores the media’s rulebook. Leitolf’s photographs acquire their significance precisely through their avoidance of moral pathos and instrumentalisation.

Exhaustive research goes into the texts accompanying the photographs, for which Leitolf draws on a wide range of sources: news reports and police files, discussions with migrants, victims, representatives of aid organisations and local people. The texts are formulated as pithy objective descriptions and serve – like the photographs – not to provoke shock and scandal at suffering and inhumanity in the context of war, flight and asylum, but to relate behaviours, structures and pro¬cesses as cause and condition of the conflict in question.

In 2011, Eva Leitolf participated in the Vevey International Photography Award organised by the Festival Images.

This exhibition is supported by the Bavarian State Chancellery and the Federal Commission on Migration FCM. Courtesy Kehrer Berlin Galerie.

Postcards from Europe 03/15
Eva Leitolf: from the series "Postcards from Europe 03/15"

Ferry Crossing, Melilla–Almería, Mediterranean 2009

On 10 January 2009 I took the Juan J. Sister from Spanish Melilla on the Moroccan coast
to Almería in Spain. The seven-hour crossing cost me €19.20.
At least 14,714 migrants died attempting to enter Europe between 1988 and 2007,
with 10,740 reported to have drowned in the Mediterranean and Atlantic on their way to Spain.

Journal, 10 January 2009, Almería; Der Spiegel, 7 May 2008; Fortress Europe
press release, 10 February 2010

Eva Leitolf was born in Germany in 1966 and graduated from the California Institute of the Arts. Her work, amongst others, has been exhibited Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Wallach Art Gallery in New York. She is also a regular speaker at art schools and international universities, in particular the Vevey School of Photography. Postcards from Europe 03/13, the first part of her research, was published in 2013 by Kehrer (Heidelberg).