Still Photography and Moving Subjects: Migration in the Frame of Hospitality
In 2000, the photojournalist Javier Bauluz disturbed the serenity of readers of the mainstream press with a photograph that exploded onto many front pages. The bare contrast that he framed, of a couple enjoying a day at the beach, seated under the shade of a parasol and looking out to sea, and the dead body of a migrant who had been washed up on shore just yards away from them, revealed in no uncertain terms the geopolitical inequities of the Mediterranean. The border here cuts deep – so deep, in fact, that for tens of thousands every year, the challenge is one of sheer survival. The bodies on the beach, those of the couple sitting in comfort and that of the lone dead migrant, face down in the sand, could not have been more contrasting. Yet, from across the metaphorical divide that runs down this image, the two sides speak to one another, each one emphasizing the distinct positions and status that sustains the other. The stark differences are mutually reliant in the subtlest of ways. The image may be split in half, but the two halves remain conjoined, each one not only framing, but actually invoking the other. The image unsettles. In one brief snapshot, Bauluz suggests that the challenge of the body, of corpo-reality, or the survival of the body in, through and against a harsh reality, is a major border that faces the undocumented, and often transcontinental, migrant. Encompassing the migrant’s body, and surrounding it, are, in fact, the many borders that such migrants seek to cross, those that are economic, political, even historical, and most certainly ideological, as they struggle to move beyond disenfranchisement. Creating and maintaining these borders are the policies, laws, discourses, narratives and texts on migration, migrants, borders, states, territoriality and sovereignty that predetermine and direct the course and conditions that migrants’ experience.