Massimo Sestini: Where Are You?

photo: Massimo Sestini
By Livia Corbò and Massimo Sestini with the contribution of Marta Cannoni

In June 2014 Italian photographer Massimo Sestini was working aboard the Bergamini frigate, to follow the Mare Nostrum rescue operation off the Libyan Coast. The operation was organized by the Italian government to rescue the people who were risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

On the 7th of June they spotted an extremely crowded boat and flew over it with a helicopter. All the people on the boat looked up at the helicopter as they immediately understood that they were safe, at last. Sestini captured that very particular moment of relief and hope. The image was selected for TIME’s Top 10 photos of 2014 and won 2015 World Press Photo Award in the category General News. Since then it has been published hundreds of times in numerous international magazines and featured in international humanitarian campaigns.

After Massimo Sestini took the photograph, he and many others began to wonder what had happened to all those people, how their lives had changed in Europe. After a person from Switzerland informed Sestini that he had recognized a relative of his in the photograph, the ’Where Are You?’ photographic project was born.

An appeal was made on social media, asking people to take a look at the photograph in the hopes that someone might recognize any of the people portrayed. A website was launched to get in touch with the people who were on the boat and to document their new lives and to tell their stories.

The goal of the project is to create a visual testimony of what has happened to this particular group of refugees and migrants after they were rescued. Those who are found are asked to share their stories through objects, images, writings and videos. The project shows what rarely makes the news nowdays: the daily life of refugees after the rescue.

The project hopes to get to know the faces of the people, to tell their individual stories, to describe and show each one of them. To help, publish the link to the photograph on your social networks, talk about the project and spread the news!


PVF 2016
The Finnish Museum of Photography