hermann glettler, wasted lives 12, 2021

the photo series with the title “wasted lives” was taken on lesbos in december 2020. the bishop of innsbruck visited this place to do a personal fact check. the humanitarian tragedy in the refugee camp kara tepe ii on the greek island is difficult to describe. it is a cultural disgrace for europe that people with harrowing fates are held in an emergency camp that does not meet the standard of european refugee conventions.

away from the camp, glettler found further evidence of the fatal tragedies that take place behind abstract concepts such as migration movements and refugee flows. he discovered a remote cemetery in an open field, characterised by spontaneous farewell culture, some private burial structures, but also by an obvious neglect. a field of the discarded.

the title “wasted lives” refers to an important book by the polish sociologist zygmunt bauman, who traces the structural exclusion of people in the most diverse situations of poverty and of people on the run. one doesn’t want to know anything about them. bauman shows that, like production processes, certain people are simply labelled as “waste” and therefore nobody has to care about their well-being. we are all part of this desensitisation, which causes a creeping shift in values. a human perception that neither falls prey to a politically motivated trivialisation nor to an insatiable voyeurism of misery would be salutary. the photos edited by the artist and presented for the first time at the beginning of lent are committed to such a perception.