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Featured artist: Aida Silvestri
22nd January 2020
why folkestone

Aida Silvestri is a UK based artist who creates work concerning issues of culture, ethnicity, identity, health, politics and the urban landscape. Her work explores new and unique approaches to documentary photography to raise awareness, give a platform to those often not heard and to promote acceptance within communities.

Aida has had work shown in London at Autograph ABP, Photographers’ Gallery, Saatchi Gallery, Roman Road Gallery, Mall Gallery and abroad in France, Greece, Luxembourg, Taiwan and Reunion Island.  She was voted one of the British Journal of Photography’s two Best of Show Winners at the Free Range exhibition, London in 2013.  She has won the Festival Audience 2017 Award Circulation(s) and was shortlisted for the 2017 Arendt, European Month of Photography awards.

Why Folkestone?

For the 5th Platforma festival, Counterpoints Arts commissioned a new project from Aida called ‘Why Folkestone?’

Why Folkestone? A question that newcomers to Folkestone are asked frequently. This project creates a new photographic narrative of a town that is changing demographically. It also aims to start difficult conversations around the idea of home, belonging and the implications of migration and the local communities in Folkestone.

It hopes to push boundaries by bringing together different groups of people who generally don’t have much, if any, association with each other in a gallery space to promote integration, acceptance and coexisting. This project will encourage diverse groups of people to take part in different activities and enable their voices to be heard.

The work was exhibited in Kent alongside Aida’s previous project Even This Will Pass, work depicting the journeys and experiences of Eritrean refugees into the United Kingdom.

Even This Will Pass

This body of work depicts the journeys and experiences of Eritrean refugees into the United Kingdom. The title of echoes a message found on the walls of Sinai Mountain: Even This Will Pass. This sentiment of hope, together with a map of the refugees’ journeys, fragmented stories and mug shots are the blueprint for this body of work.

This body of work has taken a conceptual approach in order to engage the audience without showing gruesome or pitiful imagery often associated with this subject matter as well as to preserve the dignity of the sitters. It aims to provoke an audience to action as opposed to a more traditional response of inaction due to the overwhelming enormity of the subject matter. The lucky ones board an aeroplane in Eritrea to exile. Only a few make it to their final destination after months of struggling to cross-different countries. Some end up dying in the Sahara Desert or in the Mediterranean Sea. Others are detained in refugee camps or prisons and many more end up in hands of human traffickers where they are abused, tortured or killed unless they provide a ransom.

There remain hundreds of refugees from East Africa, mainly from Eritrea, currently held hostage in the Sinai Desert by people traffickers.

The work is dedicated to those who suffered or were left behind in their quest for the ‘Promised Land’ and to those who marked their names and left messages on the walls of Sinai Mountains.

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Images: Why Folkestone? Commissioned by Platforma/Counterpoints Arts,  © Aida Silvestri 2019