Rena Effendi

Photographer
    
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Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Nationality: Azerbaijan
Biography: Rena Effendi’s early work focused on oil industry’s effects on people’s lives.  As a result, she followed a 1,700 km oil pipeline through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, collecting stories along the way. This work was published in 2009... read on
Public Story
The Crossing Point
Credits: rena effendi
Date of Work: 12/10/14 - 04/18/16
Updated: 04/17/18

In a small Greek town of Idomeni in 2015, a long and slow trail of people shuffled across fields and irrigation ditches, attempting a crossing from northern Greece into Macedonia. At nightfall, they trodded through the forests where bandits and smugglers lurked. Mothers carried children, fathers were loaded with plastic bags of food supplies and young men equipped with tents navigated the unfamiliar terrain with smart-phones. Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans along with others were on their way to Europe, escaping the violence of war back home. Along with their meager food supplies and scarce belongings, the heaviest burden they carried was the story they had escaped from. A Kurdish man from Syria pointed to his phone with a YouTube video of ISIS beheadings in his town. 

In the early hours of the morning, men and women huddled to keep warm sleeping in the pastoral hay meadows and drifting mist like scattered carcasses in a battlefield.  In the dusk hours, people fragmented into smaller groups to walk along the invisible border looking for an opening, a crossing point that was not guarded by the Macedonian police or controlled by the smugglers. As they spotted a clearing, dozens gathered in the bushes a few meters into the Macedonian territory waiting for darkness to fall.  Men were armed with twigs and kitchen knives to fend off potential attacks of random smugglers who would extort payments and disrupt their crossing.

A year later in 2016 authorities constructed a fence in Idomeni, firmly sealing the borders. More than twelve thousand people were stuck in a limbo, languishing in a wretched camp by the border. The tents stirred with anxious murmurs. Families moved and shuffled inside, progressively unsettled by their fading hopes to cross. What once was a chance for a better life - the Crossing Point - has become a metaphor for human resilience at the face of hardship. This project documents the interrupted flow of refugees, living in uncertainty in camps scattered across Greece, Lebanon and Jordan. 

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