Enri Canaj’s personal journey in photographs


A wedding ceremony in Tirana, Albania, in 2012.

TAGS: Exhibition, Photography

Photographer and photojournalist Enri Canaj’s solo exhibition “Parallel Ways,” currently on display in Monte Carasso, Switzerland, to a great extent represents a personal journey to find his own identity.

The exhibition comprises three series of photographs. One was taken during repeated visits to Albania, where he was born and lived until the age of 11. Another depicts Athens during the crisis years – these photographs were taken on the streets where he spent his teens, allowing him to reconstruct fragments of his own memories. The most recent series of images focuses on the flows of refugees and migrants who have arrived in Greece in recent years in search of a better life.

The 36-year-old photographer, who has collaborated with Kathimerini for numerous articles, traveled to Albania where, over a five-year period, he took photographs of the places where he grew up before leaving for Greece at the age of 11.

“Whenever things got rough in Greece, my mind traveled back to Albania. I imagined that life was beautiful there. I left as a kid and returned as a grownup, and again I felt lost,” he said.

Around the same time, in 2010, he started taking photographs in central Athens neighborhoods around Omonia Square, where he spent his adolescent years. “I spoke to the people living there and they allowed me to photograph them. They trusted me and I’m grateful to them,” he noted.

The “Parallel Ways” trilogy is completed by his work on the refugee and migrant crisis. These are images shot as part of his work as a photojournalist, recording the flows of people arriving on Greek shores, but which steer clear of stereotypical depictions.

“When the refugees and migrants started arriving, I saw a part of myself in them. I saw my father in the exhausted men, my mother in the women queueing,” noted the photographer. “My aim is for every photograph to be autonomous and tell its own story. As far as I’m concerned though, it’s not just the individual images that are important, but the final selection to be viewed together. I believe that’s where 50 percent of the work lies. It’s the creator’s signature.”

Through the 70 images on display in Monte Carasso (SpazioReale, Antico Convento delle Agostiniane) through November 1, the award-winning photographer brings together three different projects under a common photographic narrative, while his personal experience is transformed into a journey shared with the viewer.