A Migrant’s Tale

A collaborative experiment in photographic storytelling

In 2008 I was carrying out fieldwork among a group of Egyptian immigrants in Milano, Italy, as part of my MA dissertation. There was a strong visual component to this research, and I took many photographs that I kept showing to my subjects and friends. With one of them, Osama el-Sayed, I conceived the idea of representing their story in images and narration, setting it in the future. I prepared a selection of pictures and had Osama improvise a narration on them, mixing elements of his own biography and of his friends and relatives. He also mixed reality and imagination, choosing the status of a successful, married and documented migrant for his narrator, which he wasn’t at the time. Hinting at the practice of changing identities migrants adopt to dodge immigration controls, the protagonist in the photographs is not identified with certainty. For its participatory and multi-layered qualities I consider this piece deeply anthropological.