Those Who Did Not Cross by Levi Westerveld

This map shows in a single image the people who lost their lives as they tried to reach European shores from 2005 to 2015. These men, women, and children were fleeing conflict and instability in Africa and the Middle East. My artistic decisions were driven by the question, “How can a map show the sheer number of victims in such a tragedy without abstracting the uniqueness of each individual?

Assigning a unique dot to each victim helped to portray the unsettling number of recorded losses. I placed red dot symbols on the map, one by one, based on the location information of each accident. The lack of a distinct geometry behind the configuration of these islands of victims humanizes them and highlights their position suspended between their places of origin and planned destinations. By flattening destination countries into black coastlines, the map illustrates what victims were waiting to see on the horizon.

Distance and location are far from exact, but a wider portrayal of the Mediterranean Sea is closer to victims’ experience of the journey, as they navigated in unseaworthy vessels, often using only hand-held compasses. Individual lines of blue text waving away from some of the clusters of victims relate the details of who died, how, and where they were going. And they leave us wondering: What about the stories behind all the other.

Explore a higher resolution of this map on this page.

The creator of this work has supplied multiple images, please click here to view.