²¹ More than a year later, back in Idomeni
I return more than a year after the closure — the marchers' journeys further scattered, and the tent poles broken. My cab driver sleeps in the car while I walk around. It is a very hot day, very bright. I had expected it to rain. Upon returning to the station, I realise there is a problem with my camera. I wake up my driver and we go back, over the border.
Shortly after returning, I develop the films. My film roll has been lost. I look at its unseeing shades of black, grey and white — they are mute, they resolutely refuse to speak. But I know — I attempt to know — the images they held, of those sunny hours in the sun. I retrace my steps, slowly, on the former camp grounds:
At the station, an abandoned DUTY FREE shop (photo) ; a sign CAMPING IS ONLY PERMITTED IN DESIGNATED AREAS (photo). The police station is empty, or asleep. Advancing along the train tracks : the impression, at first, that this is all, that there’s nothing else (photo). But slowly, from the gravel, tent pegs emerge, and a few grey covers — uniform, shapeless, UNHCR ; I stop — a grey glove of a kid (photo). I pocket the miniature model of a car ; 30 Serbian dinars were left in the bushes ; the tricolour German flag on plastic charity bags — the German flag on Greek soil (photo). At times, the remnants of fires can be read upon the tracks (numerous fires were lit here).
Painted on wood :: OPEN THE BORDER :: The writing is fragile in the dazzling light (photo). Steel fences accompany the country’s last meters : a few shreds of clothes floating from the barbed wire (photo). A small altar — no candle — next to the road (photo). Nothing moves (photo).
I walk along the border wall; it is a dried up field — a solitary tree (photo), a pump (photo) ; higher up, on the hill, the remnants of a small camp (photo) — or is rather, simply, the villagers’ dumping ground ? One hesitates, for the language of ruin is not specific, here, it only coarsens details and debases.
On the site of the main camp :: among the growing bushes, one can imagine a rudimentary system of canalisation (photo). The earth was levelled in places — a guess — in order to provide suitable ground for the Great Tents. A bit further on, among the trees, clothe lines join the branches : clothes have been dried in this place.