The sun is sinking into the ocean in a postcard-perfect view, a watermelon is being sliced up on the beach, and a gold blanket glitters in the summer heat. Yet Michael Danner’s photographs subvert our expectations and counter our clichés of a sojourn on the Mediterranean.
Almost imperceptibly, they displace our inevitable associations of idyllic vacations and reinterpret summer, beach, and sea to show the threats of a humanitarian catastrophe. In the settings of our vacation fantasies, twenty-first century refugees on the coasts of Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, and Turkey are confronted with danger, loss, and death. Such gold survival blankets have been a symbol for Europe’s refugee crisis since fall 2015. According to the UN, over 70 million people around the world are currently seeking refuge—more than ever before.