Two images, two realities: one, a child hidden in a trolley, on the checkpoint at the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. The other, an artistic picture, by photographer Seba Kurtis.
On 7 may Guardia Civil agents noticed that a 19-year-old woman, reluctant to pass through border controls, was hiding a young child in her trolley. When guards opened the bag, the boy emerged from the suitcase scared and confused, telling authorities that his name was Abou, he was eight years old and from the Ivory Coast.
Seba Kurtis instead is an Argentinian photographer who spent most of his life as a clandestine migrant working on Spanish and Italian construction sites. His pictures are inspired by research he did on the surveillance systems that are used on Europe’s borders, similar to the one that took Abou’s image. Using infrared film, Seba dilated his exposure to metaphorically depict the period people hold their breath inside the container trucks to avoid detection. Migrants wrap their heads inside nylon bags, the kind that people use for their shopping. But other machinery has been installed to intercept their heartbeats, and the X-rays detect any living body traveling across the border.
The caption of a popular newspaper under Abou’s picture was also telling: ‘collapse’ -quoting police forces who claim to be unable to handle the incoming migrant flows.