U mari è amaru*

The refugee crisis that the world is facing in the recent years is unprecedented in terms of numbers of people moving and asylum requests. Together with people, money, goods, communication, and technologies create a dense connection of fluxes moving worldwide.

Among the complexity of the fluxes involved, this project focuses on the route that refugees take from Eritrea to Italy. The journey implies the passage through different countries of the African continent and finishes with the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea.
While the journey is described by following the refugee from the departure till the destination, the narration, as the events unfold, analyses all the different variables involved in the flow in order to understand if they all move at the same speed or in what measure one influences the other. In fact, every analysed variable - location, time, money, communication, technology - creates its own flow surrounding the main one.
Nevertheless, the project uses a human perspective to tell the story to stress the human nature and the emotional component of the refugee crisis.

In order to reconstruct the entire journey and the dynamics around it, we collected data and testimonies from different leading news media and official channels of the European Commission and UNHCR and then gathered all the information in a series of spreadsheets.
Through this process of reconstruction, we discovered how information is fragmented and incomplete.

However, we were able to find a pattern of variables that we used to build a flowchart, which is the system that contains all the collected information and creates the narration of the project. It includes all the variables and events that a refugee can encounter.
The flowchart is an enabler of the design process, which allowed us to cope against the multiplicity of refugees’ memories and journeys and to face the challenge of displaying this complexity as one clear narration in the book.

The book’s narration is the result of one run of the system, which randomly pick elements of the stories and combines them together with the aim of following the flux from the initial point to the final one.
Apart from the main text which is a written recording of testimonies of refugees, the reader has the chance to explore two typologies of additional contents: the notes, which support the comprehension of the narration by giving additional clues, and the focus, which instead interrupt the main text to go deep into crucial subjects concerning the social, political and economical background.

* The literal English translation is 'The Sea is bitter'. It is a popular Sicilian saying. The adjective bitter in Italian has a particular nuance referring to something difficult, strong, and intense.

Project in collaboration with Giusi Caruso and Erika Pino.