Gabriele Cecconi
The Wretched and The Earth

In August 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, fleeing persecution in their home country of Myanmar, streamed into Bangladesh. A million refugees now live in the border district of Cox’s Bazar, which has thus become the world’s largest refugee camp. This picture series shows the environmental consequences of mass flight and presents an ecological dilemma: by vying for the precious few resources that are available, people are burdening the already threatened ecosystem that is meant to provide these resources. Water reserves are decreasing and the Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary is shrinking even as erosion, landslides and floods in the monsoon season are increasing. Globally and locally, the paradigms for handling international crises must be reconsidered and developed with the holistic employment of practicable solutions. At Cox’s Bazar, a particularly fragile area, the environmental crisis is an acute example of the challenges posed by mass migration.

  • Bangladesh
  • Climate
  • Escape
  • The Environment
3 Questions
1. The door opener: Can you describe a formative moment in your career as a visual journalist?

After my law degree in 2013 I discovered photography during a road trip with a friend of mine and I decided to quit my lawyer’s career and my master’s degree to dedicate myself to photography. In 2015, I was selected for a 10-day masterclass with Alex Webb and it was the first time I had the chance to confront myself with other young photographers and with a great master. During that experience I’ve started to think seriously about my path and my pictures and I built important friendships that I still have after five years.

2. The decisive moment: When did you first encounter your topic and why did you decide to cover it photographically?

I’ve started to think about my project a few months after the beginning of the Rohingya crisis. I was reading a local newspaper when I saw an interesting article about the environmental impact of the migration on the host environment and the related consequences on the living conditions of the refugees. Nowadays, two of the main global issues are mass migration and environment and Western society has built its bases on the mentality of the domain of nature. Even though in this case refugees had to exploit the local natural resources for their life, I thought that this story could be significant to show how human beings and the environment are indissolubly connected.

3. The future: What could the visual journalism of the future be like?

We are living in the society of the proliferation of images, “the excited society”, using the words of the German philosopher Christoph Türcke. As the number of images has increased enormously I think that the future should be, as never before, conscious of the dynamics of the postmodern society and overcome old and new stereotypes, thinking about the possibilities to go beyond the spectacularisation injected by the power and invasive presence of mass media. Using the symbolic power of the images smartly in the contemporary channels of distribution could help transform the visual shock to a reflective shock and help visual journalism be more conscious. These would become images that give rise to images of thought.


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Photographer Gabriele Cecconi speaks about the stories behind the pictures from his project The Wretched and The Earth.

»During that moment, I felt this intimate connection with the subject and I took the picture.«

Gabriele Cecconi

Curated by Lena Wöhler

© for all photos by the photographers
© for all videos Lumix Festival Hanover, if not indicated otherwise.

*1985 in Italy
Gabriele Cecconi did not take up photography until he had completed his studies of law. Since then, he has documented topics of social, political and ecological relevance. In 2015, he participated in a masterclass with Alex Webb. His works have appeared in Italian media such as L’Espresso, Internazionale and La Repubblica, but have also been published in The Caravan and shown internationally at one-man and group exhibitions.


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