Angelos Tzortzinis

Landscapes of Migration
Location: GREECE
Nationality: GREEK
Biography: In an age of 22, I finished my studies at the Leica Academy of Creative Photography in Athens. During the past 5 years I am working on the immigration issue in Greece, traveling across the Greek land and sea borders but also documenting the... MORE
Public Story
Landscapes of Migration
Copyright Angelos Tzortzinis 2022
Updated Sep 2016
Location GREECE
Topics Documentary, Migration, Personal, Photography, Photojournalism

More and more migrants refugees have fled to Europe in the last year because of war, conflicts and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Over the year, Greece has been the main entry point into the continent for more than a million people and its outlying Aegean islands Chios, Kos and Lesbos have received the biggest wave of people arriving aboard packed, flimsy dinghies. Now, some 60,000 people refugees and migrants are in Greece since countries in the Balkans closed their borders, the main passageway to western and northern Europe, leaving them stranded in the country.


The first time I saw images on television of dead migrant men being washed ashore a Greek island, their lifeless bodies dragged out of the cold water by locals, it struck me how their dream for a decent life had ended up in tragedy and a mere two-minute news broadcast.

It brought to mind memories from my childhood, growing up in a poor neighbourhood of Athens, where dozens of Iraqi refugees had also set up their homes. They lived in cramped basement apartments, often five or six in one room, in squalid conditions. We'd play basketball in the streets and do the usual things children that age do, but I always wondered how these people ended up in Greece and what they left behind "“ their families, their lives.

I packed my things and travelled to the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios, the preferred entry points into the European Union for a million refugees and migrants in 2015 last year.

I later travelled to Greece's northern border, where thousands of people stood behind a metal fence, their faces full of agony, looking on to their future. They were among a huge flow of humanity streaming through the continent.

Since then, I have seen newly-erected borders fences, graveyards, dumpsites: a landscape which is evolving, brutally and fast. Day by day, Europe is changing and Greece, on the frontline with Italy, all the more so. Without wanting to, hundreds of thousands of refugees are becoming a part of it. At times, the changes are deep and permanent, at others fleeting. Ultimately, the experience will remain with them forever as they wait, solemnly, in anticipation of the future.

My goal has to document the lives of the more of 60,000 refugees and migrants stranded in Greece, after the closure of the borders by Balkan countries in March prevented them from continuing northward. The marks this crisis will leave on Greece and the continent, may not be clear immediately, but they will change the face of Greece and Europe for years to come and I would like to document them in much depth and detail as possible.
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