Asphodel Songs | Awarded Project - PhMuseum

Asphodel Songs

  • Ancient cave of the Oracle of Orpheus. According to mythology, after the Maenads dismembered his body, Orpheus’ head and lyre washed up on the shores of Lesvos. 2020.10.27

  • A man flees tear gas during clashes between inhabitants and the Greek riot police. The policemen were sent from Athens by the government in order to ensure the construction of a new closed camp for asylum seekers. 2020.02.25

  • Mohammed, 24 years old, from Basra, arrived on the 15th of March 2018 in Lesvos. The waiting and the poor living conditions in Moria camp pushed him to go back to Iraq. 2018.05.13

  • Mamoon from Mosul in Iraq, Issa and Aziz from Damascus in Syria bathe in the Gulf of Gera. 2018.05.13

  • Ancient Greek inscription on a column of the thermal baths in the village of Paralia Thermis. 2020.11.06

  • Icon of the Virgin Mary brought back from the island of Marmara by the refugees of 1922 during their exile. The black faces in the paintings could indicate that the Greek population coming from this region had very dark skin. 2020.03.04

  • Traditional village celebration in Loutropoli Thermi. In 1922, many Greek refugees from Asia Minor settled here and today the village has shelters for the most vulnerable asylum seekers. 2018.05.01

  • Anastasia Chourmouziadis, professor of museology at the University of the Aegean Sea, and descendant of Greek refugees from Asia Minor. Together with her students, she leads projects related to the history of migration in Lesvos. 2020.02.25

  • Mamoon, 28, from Mosul in Iraq, contemplates the Roman aqueduct built by Emperor Hadrian, near the village of Moria. Blocked since two months because of the EU-Turkey agreements, this is his second visit on the island as an asylum seeker. In 2015, he had spent only a few days there before being granted asylum in Germany. 2018.05.10

  • Nikos Firvilis’ grandfather (archive photo) arrived on the island of Lesvos after fleeing Asia Minor between 1920 and 1922. Today, his grandson, a nurse at Mytilene hospital, is reviving this culture through the Traces of the East association. 2020.03.07

  • A few days after the fire that totally destroyed Moria camp, Zaza and other young Syrians share a meal under a makeshift shelter. 2020.09.15

  • A fire burns to revive pastures before the rain. Slash-and-burn farming is an ancient agricultural technique in Lesvos. 2020.10.27

  • Tattoo on the arm of Ali, 21 years old, from Kabul, Afghanistan. He spent a year in Moria camp before the fire on the 9th of September 2020, and now lives in the new camp built on the Kara Tepe military firing range. 2020.09.18

  • Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees pray during Easter celebrations. The small Orthodox chapel is lent by the Greek Pope of the village of Moria. 2018.04.06

  • S., originally from Egypt. Since the burning of Moria camp, he chose to live in hiding in a World War II bunker built on a hill overlooking the sea where the ruins of several ancient cities dating back to 3000 BC remain. 2020.10.24

  • Olive trees burning in the informal part of Moria camp. 2020.02.14

  • Refugees wait in line for a food distribution. For the past three days, due to the fire in Moria camp, they have been living with more than 11,000 other people in an informal camp on the industrial estate outside Mytilene. 2020.09.12

  • Picture from the exhibition in Les Rencontres d'Arles 2021.

  • Picture from the exhibition in Les Rencontres d'Arles 2021.

  • Picture from the exhibition in Les Rencontres d'Arles 2021.

{"id":45692,"grant_id":19,"user_id":57462,"grant_submission_status_id":4,"grant_result_type_id":null,"cover_block_id":null,"story_id":40849,"place_id":null,"title":"Asphodel Songs","excerpt":"","excerpt_raw":"","body":"<p>In 2015, Lesbos became the centre of Europe\u2019s largest population movement since the Second World War. However this isn\u2019t an unprecedented event in this Greek island\u2019s turbulent history. Since antiquity, waves of migration have followed one another on this piece of land at the crossroads of the worlds, a passage between East and West. Situated only 12 kilometers from the Turkish coast, the island still bears the traces of the Great Catastrophe of 1922. Following Greece\u2019s defeat against the young Turkish Republic of Mustafa Kemal, more than a million Orthodox Greeks from Asia Minor were deported to the other shore, 45,000 of whom landed in Lesbos in the greatest deprivation. Almost a century later, it was their descendants who lended their assistance to modern-day refugees, to the extent that the island\u2019s inhabitants were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.\r<\/p><p>It\u2019s from this starting point that Agathe Kalfas and Mathias Benguigui carry out, between 2016 and 2020, Asphodel Songs, a four-handed work mixing text and images, which seeks to bring a new perspective to this highly mediatised territory. They examine the traces left in the landscape, meet its populations, collect real or imaginary stories, in order to put into perspective the different strata of migration on the island. During their stay, events succeed one another and tensions rise: the refugees\u2019 waiting is endless, months or even years; economic difficulties and a feeling of abandonment take hold of the Greek population. Yesterday\u2019s and today\u2019s exiles observe one another, but the dialogue is broken. Has Lesbos become a mirror of the \u00abField of Asphodel\u00bb, that mythological place in the underworld where souls who have committed neither crimes nor virtuous deeds, remain aimlessly and await forever?\r<\/p><p>Navigating at the borders of documentary and fiction, this long-term work invites to a new reading of Lesbos\u2019s contemporary issues, by bringing together traces of the past, mythology and migration\u2019s collective memory. The island, its populations and their constant movements, transmit to us a universal, timeless story, and make Asphodel Songs resonate.\r<\/p><p>The exhibition of this project was first presented at the Manuel Rivera Ortiz Foundation during the Rencontres de la photographie d'Arles 2021 and is now produced and ready to be shown. The book published by Le Bec en l'air is available in bookshops and was presented at Paris Photo 2021. \r<\/p><p>You can find below two abstracts of texts from the book by the co-author of the project, Agathe Kalfas.\r<\/p><p>Ode to Lesvos\r<\/p><p>Lesvos sails by sight, tossed by the silent swell of expectation, suspended in the vertigo of tomorrow. To the east, thousands of olive trees camouflage these gentle hills ; to the west, furious winds sweep the volcanic rock that secretly shelters petrified trees ; to the south, rests the shimmering waters of the Gulf of Kalloni where flamingos have found refuge abandoning their migration ; to the north, Asia Minor seems so close but remains lost in the mists of the Aegean Sea. On the beaches of Lesvos, one gathers fragments of history as one would glean seashells. Since the dawn of time, the coming and going of the waves has echoed the movements of men, now stranded. Yet, Aeolians, Greeks, Byzantines, Ottomans, pirates, poets, Albanians, Roma, Afghans, Syrians, Congolese and many others have sailed to the shores of this island, a land of passage at the crossroads of worlds, a union of East and West.\r<\/p><p>Moria or The Asphodel Field\r<\/p><p>I don\u2019t know how long I\u2019ve been walking aimlessly in this landscape of ruins. Remains of metal sheets, melted plastic materials and all sorts of rubble of lives crunch under my feet. Metal structures and a wooden door are still standing. Charred and starved tree trunks stand out of the soiled earth. Under a tarp marked with the UNHCR logo, I can see, buried, the bricks of a bread oven covered with soot. In the depths of my tight chest, my heart crumbles, soon forming a small pile of ashes at my feet.\r<\/p><p>Barely two months ago the camp of Moria stretched out among the green hills of olive trees, a strange Tower of Babel made of bricks and mortar, teeming with hopes and misery. A few sparks at the bottom of a hut were enough to start a fire, which by some divine intervention, did not claim any victims among the still sleeping inhabitants. The gigantic blaze swept away everything, wiping out the meagre possessions of the thou- sands of people parked here. Up to twenty thousand women, men, and children, of more than seventy nationalities, remained in Moria for months, years, leading an existence devoid of purpose, condemned to eternal waiting, like the souls in the Field of Asphodel, the mythological hell of those who have committed neither crime, nor virtue.\r<\/p><p>Over the continuous blowing of the wind that dissipates the acidic and carbonated smell, it seems as if I can still hear the hubbub of the crowd going about their business. I can smell the spices of a stewpot simmering in the air. Two women are chatting while hanging laundry while others are cleaning a tent and shaking out rugs. Men smoke while waiting in line at the barber shop. In the sky, colourful kites float a festive atmosphere. I hear a hoarse mewing at my feet, and suddenly the vision fades. I am no longer alone in the shadow kingdom, which seems to please an ash grey cat rubbing itself against my jeans, purring. A few metres away, I perceive another movement in the backlight. It is a young woman crouching, digging into the ground with a stick and putting in a plastic box some items that the flames have spared. I approach the rubble of what must have been a school avoiding stepping on the burnt papers, pieces of pens, stuffed animals, debris from the blackboard... She raises her head and we stare at each other for a long time without saying anything. I decide to crouch down by her side and together, tacitly, we fill the box with whatever can still be useful. Slowly, the winter sun disappears behind a hill giving way to darkness. She stands up and grabs the rope precociously tied to her box, now full. She makes one last gesture at me before setting off, dragging her collecting behind her with a scraping sound that follows the rhythm of her steps. She is leaving the realm of the dead, the camp of Moria, hangar for the unwanted souls, banished to the far reaches of Europe.<\/p>","body_raw":"In 2015, Lesbos became the centre of Europe\u2019s largest population movement since the Second World War. However this isn\u2019t an unprecedented event in this Greek island\u2019s turbulent history. Since antiquity, waves of migration have followed one another on this piece of land at the crossroads of the worlds, a passage between East and West. Situated only 12 kilometers from the Turkish coast, the island still bears the traces of the Great Catastrophe of 1922. Following Greece\u2019s defeat against the young Turkish Republic of Mustafa Kemal, more than a million Orthodox Greeks from Asia Minor were deported to the other shore, 45,000 of whom landed in Lesbos in the greatest deprivation. Almost a century later, it was their descendants who lended their assistance to modern-day refugees, to the extent that the island\u2019s inhabitants were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.\r\n \r\nIt\u2019s from this starting point that Agathe Kalfas and Mathias Benguigui carry out, between 2016 and 2020, Asphodel Songs, a four-handed work mixing text and images, which seeks to bring a new perspective to this highly mediatised territory. They examine the traces left in the landscape, meet its populations, collect real or imaginary stories, in order to put into perspective the different strata of migration on the island. During their stay, events succeed one another and tensions rise: the refugees\u2019 waiting is endless, months or even years; economic difficulties and a feeling of abandonment take hold of the Greek population. Yesterday\u2019s and today\u2019s exiles observe one another, but the dialogue is broken. Has Lesbos become a mirror of the \u00abField of Asphodel\u00bb, that mythological place in the underworld where souls who have committed neither crimes nor virtuous deeds, remain aimlessly and await forever?\r\n \r\nNavigating at the borders of documentary and fiction, this long-term work invites to a new reading of Lesbos\u2019s contemporary issues, by bringing together traces of the past, mythology and migration\u2019s collective memory. The island, its populations and their constant movements, transmit to us a universal, timeless story, and make Asphodel Songs resonate.\r\n\r\nThe exhibition of this project was first presented at the Manuel Rivera Ortiz Foundation during the Rencontres de la photographie d'Arles 2021 and is now produced and ready to be shown. The book published by Le Bec en l'air is available in bookshops and was presented at Paris Photo 2021. \r\nYou can find below two abstracts of texts from the book by the co-author of the project, Agathe Kalfas.\r\n\r\nOde to Lesvos\r\nLesvos sails by sight, tossed by the silent swell of expectation, suspended in the vertigo of tomorrow. To the east, thousands of olive trees camouflage these gentle hills ; to the west, furious winds sweep the volcanic rock that secretly shelters petrified trees ; to the south, rests the shimmering waters of the Gulf of Kalloni where flamingos have found refuge abandoning their migration ; to the north, Asia Minor seems so close but remains lost in the mists of the Aegean Sea. On the beaches of Lesvos, one gathers fragments of history as one would glean seashells. Since the dawn of time, the coming and going of the waves has echoed the movements of men, now stranded. Yet, Aeolians, Greeks, Byzantines, Ottomans, pirates, poets, Albanians, Roma, Afghans, Syrians, Congolese and many others have sailed to the shores of this island, a land of passage at the crossroads of worlds, a union of East and West.\r\n\r\nMoria or The Asphodel Field\r\nI don\u2019t know how long I\u2019ve been walking aimlessly in this landscape of ruins. Remains of metal sheets, melted plastic materials and all sorts of rubble of lives crunch under my feet. Metal structures and a wooden door are still standing. Charred and starved tree trunks stand out of the soiled earth. Under a tarp marked with the UNHCR logo, I can see, buried, the bricks of a bread oven covered with soot. In the depths of my tight chest, my heart crumbles, soon forming a small pile of ashes at my feet.\r\nBarely two months ago the camp of Moria stretched out among the green hills of olive trees, a strange Tower of Babel made of bricks and mortar, teeming with hopes and misery. A few sparks at the bottom of a hut were enough to start a fire, which by some divine intervention, did not claim any victims among the still sleeping inhabitants. The gigantic blaze swept away everything, wiping out the meagre possessions of the thou- sands of people parked here. Up to twenty thousand women, men, and children, of more than seventy nationalities, remained in Moria for months, years, leading an existence devoid of purpose, condemned to eternal waiting, like the souls in the Field of Asphodel, the mythological hell of those who have committed neither crime, nor virtue.\r\nOver the continuous blowing of the wind that dissipates the acidic and carbonated smell, it seems as if I can still hear the hubbub of the crowd going about their business. I can smell the spices of a stewpot simmering in the air. Two women are chatting while hanging laundry while others are cleaning a tent and shaking out rugs. Men smoke while waiting in line at the barber shop. In the sky, colourful kites float a festive atmosphere. I hear a hoarse mewing at my feet, and suddenly the vision fades. I am no longer alone in the shadow kingdom, which seems to please an ash grey cat rubbing itself against my jeans, purring. A few metres away, I perceive another movement in the backlight. It is a young woman crouching, digging into the ground with a stick and putting in a plastic box some items that the flames have spared. I approach the rubble of what must have been a school avoiding stepping on the burnt papers, pieces of pens, stuffed animals, debris from the blackboard... She raises her head and we stare at each other for a long time without saying anything. I decide to crouch down by her side and together, tacitly, we fill the box with whatever can still be useful. Slowly, the winter sun disappears behind a hill giving way to darkness. She stands up and grabs the rope precociously tied to her box, now full. She makes one last gesture at me before setting off, dragging her collecting behind her with a scraping sound that follows the rhythm of her steps. She is leaving the realm of the dead, the camp of Moria, hangar for the unwanted souls, banished to the far reaches of Europe.","social_approval":1,"is_shortlisted":1,"is_other":0,"is_good":0,"is_strong":0,"is_ongoing":0,"is_unpublished":0,"sent_first_email_reminder":0,"awaiting_payment":1,"has_started_payment":1,"has_started_paypal_payment":0,"is_public":0,"media_ok":0,"has_tracked":1,"amount_paid":25,"original_price":25,"external_id":"cs_live_a1Iujf7WxqAQlLwQjsYxujBM0GkylQAdm0G446ePnUKqJN3Ys8gcPogMZ4","payment_id":"pi_3KyYBjD9Te8dh8Es0egvdx78","session_id":null,"token":"ZqZSEivFfHvirN5BCPmabLl6EX5KCkKc","grant_order_id":19708,"submitted_at":"2022-05-12T09:22:33.000000Z","affiliate_id":null,"is_forced_public":1,"address_1":null,"city":null,"region":null,"country":"FR","postcode":null,"codice_fiscale":null,"started_at":"2016-01-01T00:00:00.000000Z","ended_at":"2021-01-01T00:00:00.000000Z","created_at":"2022-05-09T16:57:17.000000Z","updated_at":"2022-05-17T17:14:42.000000Z","place":null,"publications":[],"categories":[],"tags":[{"id":115,"tag":"migration","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:38.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:38.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":115}},{"id":210,"tag":"island","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:38.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:38.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":210}},{"id":414,"tag":"history","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:39.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:39.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":414}},{"id":40,"tag":"landscape","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:37.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:37.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":40}},{"id":157,"tag":"portrait","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:38.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:38.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":157}},{"id":2680,"tag":"mythology","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:06:01.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:06:01.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":2680}},{"id":1811,"tag":"poetry","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:51.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:51.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":1811}},{"id":5187,"tag":"religions","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:06:40.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:06:40.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":5187}},{"id":2900,"tag":"camp","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:06:04.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:06:04.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":2900}},{"id":213,"tag":"sea","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:38.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:38.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":213}},{"id":5004,"tag":"smoke","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:06:36.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:06:36.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":5004}},{"id":585,"tag":"greece","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:40.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:40.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":585}},{"id":4772,"tag":"greek","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:06:32.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:06:32.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":4772}},{"id":1218,"tag":"time","created_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:45.000000Z","updated_at":"2015-12-07T17:05:45.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":1218}},{"id":42014,"tag":"yesterday","created_at":"2022-05-09T17:03:13.000000Z","updated_at":"2022-05-09T17:03:13.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":42014}},{"id":42015,"tag":"futures","created_at":"2022-05-09T17:03:14.000000Z","updated_at":"2022-05-09T17:03:14.000000Z","pivot":{"grant_submission_id":45692,"tag_id":42015}}],"blocks":[{"id":502608,"grant_submission_id":45692,"story_block_id":409846,"image_id":589040,"position":-1,"created_at":"2022-05-09T16:57:18.000000Z","updated_at":"2022-05-09T17:03:13.000000Z","caption":"Ancient cave of the Oracle of\r\nOrpheus. 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