From Afghanistan to Ukraine, photography and design for social change: Now You See Me Moria

The origins

Now You See Me Moria is a design and photography-based project aiming at raising awareness and inspiring action in relation to the human right issue of forced migration. It was born in 2020 out of a moment of personal loss. Photographer and founder Noemi had recently lost the love of her life to the consequences of forced migration. While this was happening in her life, the pandemic was raging in the rest of the world. At the same time, a particularly serious incident had occurred in the Moria refugee camp in Greece: a fire had destroyed a portion of the camp where more than 12,000 people lived. Precisely because of the pandemic, there was little media attention paid to the camp, too little. During a sleepless night, Noemi discovered, thanks to a mutual friend, the photos of Amir, an Afghan refugee who was staying in Moria. She was immediately struck by them.

Photographs in the field to increase attention

"When I saw his pictures, I immediately understood what Amir was trying to do," says Noemi. Her photography background came into play: "I wanted to help him get his pictures out of his Facebook profile" so the world could see them. The images taken in Moria were "a way to shout to the world: all this is still happening, we must do something!". By joining forces, they got the message out there. The first step was opening an Instagram profile, which is now followed by more than 40,000 people. But the idea was not to stop in the digital world

The poster as a means of political communication 

About six months after starting the project, Noemi remembered visiting an exhibition where the artworks were based on the poster medium. The idea had stuck in her mind. At that point, after talking to a few designers, Now You See Me Moria also started working with posters. The combination of strong photography and graphic design proved to be extremely powerful. Before long, NYSM launched an open call. The response was incredible: more than 500 people sent in their poster ideas. Using the poster in the public space also allows you to go beyond the bubbles of interest that are typical of how social media works: "it's true that we had a lot of followers, but they were mainly people who were already interested in and active in the topic of migration." The idea was to reach out to those who think differently: "we wanted to confront people who are against immigration or frightened by the phenomenon with our stories, or to inform those who were not thinking about it". In the last year and a half NYSM has been exhibited in important museums around the world, from Foam and Stedelijk in Amsterdam to the Weltmuseum in Vienna, Civa in Brussels and Florence.

From Afghanistan to Ukraine: making your voice heard

When the Taliban occupied Kabul last summer, NYSM took steps to expose the stories of those in the midst of the emergency. Instead of photographs, illustrations were used in this case. A choice made to protect the identities of those who were in dangerous situations. Noemi once again felt directly touched: "the father of my child is Afghan". Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, NYSM has been making its digital visibility available to help organize aid and humanitarian corridors. On their page you can find useful information for anyone looking for transportation or housing solutions once they reach a safe destination. 

The aim of the project, in all its forms, is to awaken consciences to produce social pressure: "we are not looking for heroes, it is not a situation that can be solved by one person. What we can do is inspire people to act. Social change will come with time, when more and more people gain awareness. Educating as many people as possible and pushing them to think creates social pressure, which then produces change."