Say Goodbye Before You Leave
Edition of 950
21,50 x 30 cm
English texts by Enri Cenaj and Nadina Christopoulou
Selfublished in 2022
Following the Arab Spring, this project started documenting the first boats with migrants on board reaching the EU waters in 2013, and was completed in 2020 with the last episodes of the tragic fire in Moria refugee reception center in Lesbos, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. It combines images of migration throughout various stages,showing people’s arrivals, the first years of the ones who made it to their destinations, and the situations of those who are still waiting on the other side.
I have been documenting people’s journeys for several years, moving from one country to the other in step with those people who allowed me to photograph them, capturing the initial reactions and circumstances of the first days in Europe and how these quickly turn into the first years. All of this was very familiar. Their present walked in parallel with my past.
I was 11 years old when my parents decided we had to leave our country. When you leave something behind, suddenly it feels like the umbilical cord has been cut. All the same, you don’t have the time to say goodbye; you must go on and embrace the pain within.
The documentation of people’s journeys, struggles, hopes and dreams are geographically located in 3 continents, 13 countries, 25 cities and small towns most in the west and northern Europe during the timeline of 8 years.
Enri Canaj (born 1980, Tirana Albania) is a Magnum Photos associate, currently based in Athens and covers stories in Greece, the Balkans, west & north Europe focusing on the migration matter.
He spent his early childhood in Albania and moved with his family to Greece in 1991, immediately after the opening of the borders. He studied photography in Athens and in 2007 he took part in a British Council project on migration, attending a year-long workshop with Magnum photographer Nikos Economopoulos.
Since 2008, he has been a freelance photographer for major national and international publications such as CNN, The Guardian, NY Times, National Geographic, Le Monde, Lobs etc. His works have been exhibited in solo and group shows, among others, 30th Anniversary of SAKHAROV prize - “They defend our freedoms” profiling human rights activist from Ethiopia, 2018 Brussels, solo show at Arles Festival, France - “The Wind Cries War” 2017, “ The wind cries war” - HANOVER Photo Festival 2016 etc.