The 5th edition of the Documentary Photography Festival of Barcelona – also called as DOCfield – changes its usual dates and goes from spring to autumn with numerous exhibitions, audiovisual projections, sessions with professionals of the sector and especially debates that seek, as always, to spread the value of visual journalism.
In this edition, the theme chosen is human mobility, travel. The festival encourages the public to reflect on the different ways of traveling, the reasons, the itineraries and the encounters that result after having embarked on the road.
From 19 October to 30 November, the public will be able to enjoy Barcelona as an international reference center for visual journalism.
The inauguration of the festival and first exhibition visited, “No More lives Adrift”, shows the mission of the Proactiva Open Arms organization. Two years in the Mediterranean that Anna Surinyach, Aris Messinis, David Ramos, Edu Bayer, Giacomo Zandonini, Giorgos Moutafis, Marcus Drinkwater, Olmo Calvo, Ricard Garcia Vilanova, Santi Palacios, Sergi Cámara and Yannis Behrakis have captured through their lenses.
The collective exhibition follows the trajectory of this Catalan NGO, whose objective has always focused on protecting human rights at sea and lives that remain adrift; to rescue refugees who were trying to reach Europe because of war, persecution and poverty. The public becomes a direct testimony to the humanitarian crisis and the missions that took place on the coast of Lesbos (Greece) from September 2015 and in the center of the Mediterranean from June 2016 to today.
Oscar Camps is the founder of the NGO Proactiva Open Arms and someone who has faced a dramatic reality and a deeply thought about the word “travel.” In the exhibition you can read how he started his way to the Mediterranean and I considered more than worth it to share it here.
“I cried a lot when I saw photos of drowned refugee children washed up on a beach, long before the death of Aylan Kurdi. I asked myself if there was anything I could do apart from crying and cursing governments and administrations. There are rescue teams on Spanish beaches. What happened to them? Why did no one help them? It hurt me at the heart of my professional being.
After spending half of my life protecting bathers on our beaches, I am familiar with the sea and the risks it represents, and I thought that if I could help just one family, I’d be satisfied.
I had some money saved to buy a second-hand sailing boat. I talked to the rest of the family, and everyone supported my decision to go and help, until the money ran out. The next morning, I asked my team if they wanted to go with me. They all said yes, and together this is how far we have come. Two years later, we have saved over 50,000 lives in the Aegean and the central Mediterranean.
That small personal gesture, that individual decision that overcomes all the adversities you can imagine when you’re sitting on the sofa at home, and overcomes dozens of questions that bombard your brain: What am I going to do there on my own? Will I be able to get there? Will they let me help? Where exactly do I have to go? What shall I take? This is the force that prompts you to disobey the established rule, and you let your instinct and your commitment guide you. That is when you overcome the fear, when you get up from the sofa and decide to be true to yourself. This is the difference, lurking between indignation and disobedience, which have lost their way in a chaotic, unpredictable world.
Hundreds of volunteers and aid workers have joined this mission to save thousands of lives. We have brought the story home to hundreds of thousands of citizens who do not want to be accomplices to the deliberate inaction of the administrations. We have got thousands of people to support this mission and help us with their donations.
The future is unpredictable, like the world in general. But the future doesn’t depend on chance, it depends on actions. And sometimes small gestures like this can lead to great actions.