Moroccan Zeitgeist

I was quite interested to read about A Life Full Of Holes: The Strait Project, an exhibition of photographs by Tangier-born Yto Berrada, and quite disappointed that none of the pictures were available online. The photographs explore issues of migration, similar to the ones I deal with in The Things That Death Will Buy: the “harragas”–people who risk life and limb trying to cross the Straits of Gibraltar in order to make it in Europe. The word has its root in the verb ‘hrg,’ meaning ‘to burn’. Those who migrate in this way burn their papers, burn their past lives in hope of new ones. Here’s Barrada on the project:

‘The word strait, like its French – and as chance would have it, Arabic – equivalent, combines the senses of narrowness and distress. The collapse of the colonial entreprise has left behind a complex legacy, bridging the Mediterranean and shaping how movement across the Strait of Gibraltar is managed and perceived. Before 1991 any Moroccan with a passport could travel freely to Europe. But since the European Union’s (EU) Schengen Agreement, visiting rights have become unilateral across what is now legally a one-way strait. A generation of Moroccans has grown up facing this troubled space that manages to be at once physical, symbolic, historical and intimately personal.

Berrada’s exhibition takes its name from the book by Driss Ben Hamed Charhadi (edited by Paul Bowles), A Life Full of Holes. If you are a reader from Liverpool, drop me a line at llalami AT yahoo DOT com and let me know what you think of the exhibition.

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