Enri Canaj was born in Tirana, Albania, in 1980. He spent his early childhood there and moved with his family to Greece in 1991, immediately after the opening of the borders. He is based in Athens and covers stories in Greece and the Balkans. He studied photography at the Leica
Academy in Athens. In 2007 he took part in a British Council project on migration, attending a year-long workshop with Magnum
photographer Nikos Economopoulos.
Since 2008, he has been a freelance photographer for major publications such as Time Lightbox
, CNN Photo, New York Magazine
, MSNBC Photography, The Wall Street Journal
, Courrier International
, Vice Magazine
, The Financial Times, Newsweek
, Paris Match
, Le Monde Diplomatique
, sample of his work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki personal exhibition, HANOVER LUMIX Festival, Arles Festival, Benaki Museum Athens, Museum of Photography Thesaloniki, BOZAR Center for Fine Arts, Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece in Athens, at the Bilgi Santral in Istanbul, the European Parliament in Brussels and the Athens Photo Festival, New Delhi Foto Festival.
Source: Magnum Photos
In 2010, statistics stated that some 90% of all illegal border crossings into the EU take place in Greek territory, with immigrants coming mostly from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, a reflection of the geopolitical conflicts currently ravaging each region, and the influx continues. These people are common a sight in Athens, as western tourists take part in the cultural tourism that keeps this city alive; peddling cheap products made in China – a crude image of capitalism eating its own tail. And yet, despite the ease with which this situation might be covered in bursts by the mainstream press, Enri Canaj’s work has consistently surrounded themes of migration within the Balkans, and more specifically the experience of immigrants in Greece, suggesting a dedication to a cause, rather than a newsworthy story.
Since 2007, when he took part a yearlong project on migration with Magnum photographer Nikos Economopoulos entitled the City Streets Project
organized by the British Council, this focus has become one of the key aspects to his work. And despite his professional status as a photojournalist, Canaj’s images reveal a more personal relationship to the situation of the migrant on the ground, given that Canaj himself was an immigrant who came to Greece from his native Albania in 1991 at the age of eleven. Having experienced first hand what it’s like to exist on the outside looking in, Canaj translates what he sees, and sends it back out into the world so as to reflect a sense of humanity in the lives of those so often treated as less than.
In June 2019 Enri Canaj became a Magnum Photos associate. At-present he is based in Athens and covers stories in Greece, the Balkans, west & north Europe focusing on the migration matter.