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Ines Dumig: “Apart Together” – Regaining the lost Identity

Ines Dumig is a german-based Photographer. She holds an MA from the London College of Communication in Documentary Photography. Since 2019 she is a Jury Member of fotodoks. A Festival for documentary Photography in Munich.

Germany – 

According to the International Organisation of Migration, there are over 200 million migrants worldwide and the geographic region of Europe is home to the highest number. There are economic reasons, civil wars and effects of global warming that force people to leave their home country. We see these stories repeated over and over again in the media. It’s a dangerous journey but most don´t have a choice. Notwithstanding the Schengen region seals off its Southern borders more and more consistently. Arguing to protect Europe from illegal migration. The electronic monitoring system Eurosur is equipped with new skills and rapid intervention teams for border security, the so-called Rabits who ensure a complete shield to Europe’s fortress. As a result of this foreclosure strategy, less refugees reach the EU territory. 2.486 unaccompanied underaged refugees were registered in Germany in 2013.

Is human dignity invaluable? The world around us would seem to suggest otherwise. With this project I have tried to regain some of that lost dignity, those private moments when we feel safe enough to reveal some of ourselves. But these revelations are only fragments of a story that I want the viewers to complete for themselves. I wanted to show an insight into my subjects’ life. She reveals her inner selves but many of her feelings and emotions can be accessed only subliminally. Sahra was born in Somalia, but left her home country when she was fourteen. After a perilous two year journey she currently lives in Munich, Germany. Her state is: Suspending of deportation.Through this project I have tried to explore aspects of her fragmented life. My photography is trying to capture her story, The pictures are different pieces of her life, her personality and what happened. Coming to Europe as a refugee but never being able to settle, she tries to be part of a new world while reflecting on the people the culture that occupy it. Through her unresolved situation and all her experiences she cannot establish a fixed identity instead she has many identities. Her life is moving along uncertain patterns. Those that we are all try to shape when we are young and discovering the people that we are. It reminds me of a mosaic or a labyrinth. Like the patterns on her fingers are a poetic symbol. As her fingerprint plays a significant role in her story, the lines can be seen in relation to her journey and the distance she travelled. Her story is a remarkable one, but in relation to the overall situation I wanted do something that reflects the fact that we are not that moved by. Her testimony is just another one lost in the countless others like hers that seen documented before. We hear so many of these stories, somehow we all know them already. In this sense, they become meaningless. I see this project as a reaction to my feelings to the medias inadequacy in dealing with these testimonies.

Isolation is a main issue in her story. That’s why I decided to photograph her on her own. It’s the issue of closeness and distance that play an integral role in her story. The images have been made in a way that fragments the subject. They have lost their visual wholeness, the totality of their being in the frame; just a small fragment remains. Similarly in her story, only a small part of the story can be retold. We are in reality only able to gain insight into a small fraction of her and visually, we can only see a fragment of a person’s life. Symbolic meanings play a significant role in the pictures, which are like windows to her inner landscape, different interiors. What French poet André Breton described “ A desire to deepen the foundations of the real, to bring about an ever clearer and at the same time ever more passionate consciousness of the world perceived by the senses” The stories we see in the media related to immigration are fleeting. With these pictures I intend for the viewer to stand still. To pause for a moment. It is a test of our hear and now, a touch from a distance. My intention is to put us in real contact with absolute distance, the searching for a presence- if we understand that presence is not something present; what is there, not approaching, not withdrawing (…) and yet designates an infinte relation ( Maurice Blachot) .

Written and Photography by – Ines Dumig

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