Portfolio: Sandra Vitaljic

I Just Greet Back


I moved to Sweden in October 2018 and suddenly realized I had to think of myself as an immigrant. I tried to cope with the negative connotations of the term. I struggled with the indignity of it.

There is a certain acceptance for people who come as political immigrants or refugees from war-torn countries. They have no choice; they run to safety. But what about us who choose to leave our countries of origin on our own terms... Do our stories matter? Are these experiences so insignificant they should remain invisible?

The topic of migration has been highly political and visible in recent years. Narratives often focus on tragic events that lead to migration, on dehumanizing refugees and immigrants as political propaganda for far-right parties or on tales of success in integration. Among all dramatic narratives, there is a lack of humanizing stories about simple everyday things that are similar to all people, regardless of their background. Those small tales seem so insignificant and personal that they mostly remain untold.

I started to collect stories about the everyday struggles of women I met on my path as an immigrant. Usually, we meet over a cup of coffee. We talk like friends and share our experiences. I write down excerpts that I find most telling.
Those stories reflect a struggle for dignity in precarious circumstances while becoming a mirror of society, revealing the working and living conditions, the mentality and cultural differences. The stories are complemented by my photographs, and together they form a collective diary.