Lampedusa: Photo Stories from the Edge of Europe

Photo-Graphic-Novel - supported by the TURN Fund

In recent years we have become accustomed to images of African refugees in distress at sea. When reporting these incidents, the media either play on the stereotypical belief that the refugees in the overladen boats represent a threat to Europe, or present them as victims of a dysfunctional immigration system. Yet the media rarely publicise photos taken by fishermen, inhabitants, aid organisations, the coast guard or the refugees themselves.
This is the focus of the media field research project “Lampedusa: Photo Stories from the Edge of Europe”, initiated by Spector Books in Leipzig and the Karlruhe University of Arts and Design, and directed by the artist and photographer Armin Linke. The project investigates who and what can be seen in these photos, why they were taken, what stories they tell, and what repercussions they have.

The research phase on Lampedusa will start by documenting photo material from refugees, NGOs, FRONTEX and the coast guard, and conducting filmed interviews with individuals on location. In the second phase, the participants will develop a story from this material, which young illustrators from the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences together with illustrators from Egypt will graphically express and incorporate into non-linear stories comprised of texts, photos and illustrations. Shifts in perspectives, narrators, narrative styles, commentaries, recordings, drawing styles and photos will provide the novel with a multi-voiced narrative by many individuals discussing the migration of African refugees. Using illustrations is an artistic strategy as well, because publishing actual photos could endanger those featured protagonists who have entered Europe illegally.

The book will be published in German and in English with a print run of 1,000 copies each and marketed internationally. Lecture performances presenting the project are also planned at the Savvy Contemporary, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin and the Villa Romana in Florence.

Artistic director: Armin Linke (DE)
Participants: Estelle Blaschke (DE), Lisa Bergmann (DE), Elisa Calore (IT), Haitham El-seht (EG), Mohamed El-seht (EG), Leon Kahane (DE), Anne König, Ina Kwon (DE), Valeria Malito (IT), Karolina Sobel (PL), Helmut Völter (DE)

TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries

In 2012, the Federal Cultural Foundation established the TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries in order to encourage a wide range of German institutions to shift their focus on the artistic production and cultural debates in African countries.

More about the TURN Fund (opens in a new window)

Photo Biennale 2017

"Lampedusa: Photo Stories from the Edge of Europe" has been invited to the Photo Biennale in Mannheim. The project's Migrant Image Research Group explores the theme of "Evidence and Testimony".


  • 9 September, 2017 : Book presentation

    Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, Mannheim


Spector Books OHG

Harkortstraße 10
04107 Leipzig (external link, opens in a new window)