Review: Liquid Traces

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By Berit Barsch

Berit is an 17-year-old German exchange student currently doing two weeks of work experience at KCW Today.

On Tuesday, the 20th of March 2018 the Migration Museum at the Workshop, located at 26 Lambeth High Street SE1 7AG London, showed two movies about different cases of migration over the Mediterranean sea.

The first movie they showed was a synthetic reconstruction of the left-to-die boat case which took place in 2011 called ”Liquid Traces” and was introduced by one of the two producers of this 17min long short film, Lorenzo Pezzani. Charles Heller, his partner on the project, could not attend the screening.

Lorenzo Pezzani started by telling the audience about the left-to-die boat case his film was about, a case in which about 70 passengers left the coats of Libya in 2011 with a small rubber boat, aiming for Lampedusa, which they were destined never to reach. Instead, they started drifting in the Mediterranean after their fuel went out for fourteen days, completely powerless and exposed to the sea, which will end up being witness and murder to the deaths of all but 11 of the passengers. By reconstructing the currents of the sea at that time and therefore the location of the boat at different times traces of this event could be found (hence the name ”Liquid Traces”). The sea does not swallow all evidence like it is often thought after all. This way the past can be reconstructed can as most of the time the boat was within the NATO maritime surveillance area.

The film itself was kept very simple, it showed a large satellite picture of the sea during the time of the incident with the moving currents and a reconstruction of the way the boat had travelled and drifted.

The most shocking thing about the film was the fact, that the rubber boat was in the area of the Mediterranean Sea which was monitored by the NATO, at that time it was the most highly surveilled section of sea in the entire world. Plus there were also other ships and helicopters with people on them. The passengers had used their satellite phone to call for help and their GPS coordinates were determined, but no help arrived. Ever. A military helicopter dropped eight bottles of water and a few biscuits to them but considering the fact that there were 72 passengers on board this was not the aid they would have needed, and since this helicopter also did not proceed to give the information of a rubber boat drifting in the middle of the ocean to anyone else that could have helped I think this was only a nice gesture with no real intention but to calm the little consciousness they had. The lack of empathy in this case is disgusting, also by the ships that encountered them and just drove past them, not showing any sign of humanity in their actions.

For fourteen days the passengers had to endure pain due to dehydration, being completely exposed to the weather and the currents of the sea and the lack of food. The eleven passengers that survived until the arrival southeast of Tripoli at Zlitan had to watch their family and friends die along with almost everyone else on board.

It’s fair to say that slowly dehydrating on a small rubber boat surrounded by the corpses of people you once knew is not the kind of experience anyone would want to have.

And even of the eleven passengers being still alive, two more died shortly after reaching the coast. They suffered for what must have felt like an eternity for nothing. Just because no one had enough of a human consciousness to actually act to help.

All in all it was a very interesting evening and I would definitely recommend to also check out the exhibition by the museum of migration in the workshop, since the people working there put a lot of effort in it, and in addition to the topic being very interesting it is also very up to date with all the migration that takes place all around the world every day.

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