Rifugio is a photographic project among the Christian communities of Middle East. I have travelled for 3 years to nine countries documenting the life of Christians and their native lands in Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, West Bank, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.
Christians are millenarian populations, born and developed in the Middle East region. During the last decades the region has been characterized by wars, uprisings, long dictatorships: this has led Christians to the diaspora seeking welfare and safety abroad.
On 1st January 2011 a terrorist attack occurred as Christian worshippers were leaving a new year service in Alexandria of Egypt. I started wondering if, how and why Christians were persecuted. I was not satisfied about the breaking news and with Rifugio I aimed to take a step behind the speed of media in order to discover what lies behind the tragic evolution of social and interdenominational relationships among religions. I moved to Beirut and lived in Lebanon for the period of my research. I wanted to experience first hand the reality that I was telling.
“Rifugio” is an Italian word which means “refuge, shelter, haven”. I concentrated my efforts on those who have remained in their homeland, discovering that Christians preserve a strong attachment to their roots and spiritual values. This strength helps them to deal with their nature of susceptible religious minority, but it keeps them into a “Rifugio”: a hidden and apparently safe shelter far enough from neighbors belonging to different faiths, where fear and stereotypes develop and grow.
The Middle East is a crossroad of faiths and populations. Rifugio has gone backwards to the millennia that separate the secularized West from the Levant where everything is religion, finding two common feelings among Christians: the fear about the death of their civilization, and the nostalgia of their glorious past.