It is well known that life originated in the sea. More than 70% of our planet is covered by it, and the balance of the life cycles of the entire globe depends on it. Nothing more vast than its waters, full of depths, swells, voluptuous forces and immeasurable powers associated with the almighty god Neptune. But despite the violence and fear that the seas and oceans exert on helpless human beings, thousands of people throw themselves into its waters every year, fleeing from other people. From the violence and psychopathy of their fellow humans.

There are no words that can navigate the torrent of extreme emotions in which those who have the audacity to throw themselves into the sea as a last resort immerse themselves. Perhaps it is through images that we can try to approach their unfathomable grief.

 It is well known that life originated in the sea. What is unacceptable is that we allow it to end there so often.

33.293 (Fragment. Description below)
33.293 (Fragment. Description below)

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The drift. (Fragment. Description below)
The drift. (Fragment. Description below)

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Bathers. (Fragment. Description below)
Bathers. (Fragment. Description below)

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Summa Cum Laude. (Fragment. Description below)
Summa Cum Laude. (Fragment. Description below)

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The swimmer I. (Fragment. Description below)
The swimmer I. (Fragment. Description below)

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The swimmer II. (Fragment. Description below)
The swimmer II. (Fragment. Description below)

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58 days. (Fragment. Description below)
58 days. (Fragment. Description below)

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The search.(Fragment. Description below)
The search.(Fragment. Description below)

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VIDEOS:

1- 33.293 (The crossing)

 

2019

Multilayer mono-channel video HD

Duration: 04:51”

  

The Mediterranean represents, in the minds of millions of people, the barrier between hunger and prosperity. Its waters are for them the frontier between abuses of all kinds and respect for fundamental rights. But this image is an idealisation, as thousands of migrants every year face not only the violence of an untamed sea, but also the greed, indolence, perversion, complicity and inefficiency of governments, authorities, mafias and gangs for whom human life only represents an economic benefit.

 

It is very difficult to imagine the level of desperation that someone must have to face this dangerous intercontinental journey, which is not only populated by incessant horrors along the different African routes from their countries of origin to the coasts, but also by the exclusion, exploitation and mistreatment to which those who are lucky enough to cross the waters alive are subjected.

 

An unthinkable number of people do not make it. Their journey ends - as does their life - in the unfathomable waters of the sea. From 1993 to 2019, the estimated number of drownings in the Mediterranean is 33,293. But this number has been steadily increasing and is certain to have grown as you read this brief commentary.

2- The drift

 

2021

Multilayer mono-channel video HD

Duration: 01:57”

Collaboratión of Beatriz Santini y Giancarlo Orco

  

 

On 2 August 1993, 15 Cubans left Cienfuegos in a small boat. Just two days later, the engine was damaged and they were adrift for two weeks, until a rough wave sank the boat and the crew were left floating for seven hours at sea. A group of fishermen stumbled upon them just off the coast of Cozumel. Seven - several children - died.

 

The Mexican government deported the survivors to Cuba, against their will, and five were detained on the island. A chain of atrocities reminiscent of the martyrdom of Sisyphus. One sorrow after another.

 

3- Bathers

 

2021

Multilayer mono-channel video HD

Duration: 01:58”

 

 

On 2 September 2000, an inconceivable image swept the world. That year, hundreds of small boats crossed the Strait of Gibraltar loaded with Maghrebi immigrants, many of whom ended up as stranded bodies on the Spanish coast. The image showed a lighthearted group of tourists, bathing on the beaches of Tarifa, on the sands of which the unfortunate migrants were lying lifeless. It showed two scandals in the same frame, each larger than the other. The presence of the inanimate bodies, a stark sign of our failures as a human collective, and that of the living bodies of tourists enjoying the sea, totally oblivious to the ignominy that surrounded them: another failure of the same collective.

 

 

4- Summa Cum Laude (The boy from Mali)

 

2019

Multilayer mono-channel video HD

Duration:02:20”

 

 

On 18 April 2015, an Egyptian fishing boat, with Blessed Allah written on its bow, set sail from the coast of Libya. Normally carrying about twenty fishermen, it was loaded with about a thousand people, victims of desperation and human trafficking.

 

Most of the passengers were from sub-Saharan Africa - among them several children, who were seeing the sea for the first time - and had managed to survive the unspeakable journey from their countries of origin, stalked by criminals of all kinds, who take advantage of the defencelessness of these forced migrants to enslave them, plunder them and, in the best case, after charging them disproportionate sums of money, offer them the crossing of the Mare Nostrum to take them to Europe.

 

A Malian boy, about 14 years old, was among this batch of migrants. He had been an excellent student, so he decided - probably with the help of his mother - to sew inside a pocket of his jacket, his brilliant grades, sure that these - all the effort of his short life - would be his best credentials for that new stage of opportunities he dreamed of.

 

But the boat sank, and with it the dreams of the Malian boy, and hundreds of other passengers, in what is the biggest shipwreck - and the biggest shame - in recent times in the Central Mediterranean.

5- 8 km (The swimmer I)

 

2021

Multilayer mono-channel video HD

Duration: 03:43”

Collaboration of Magdalena Fernández

  

6- 8 km (The swimmer II)

Multilayer mono-channel video HD

Duration: 03:16”

Collaboration of Beatriz Santini

 

At the end of April 2019, 22-year-old Yubreilis Merchán ran away from home to escape hunger and despair. In the town of Güiria, she boarded a small fishing boat with other women, under the command of men who were smuggling them out of Venezuela to Trinidad, promising to give them work and food on the neighbouring island. In reality, they had kidnapped them and planned to force them into prostitution, as they had already done with many other women, victims of hunger, lack of opportunities and desolation. More than 6,400,000 Venezuelans have had to leave their country, many of them on foot and with no resources other than their own bodies, in what has been described as the largest exodus in the contemporary world. The escape by sea between Venezuela and Trinidad is one of the most dramatic, dangerous and sordid.

 

The boat sped into the turbulent and lethal Boca de Dragón, but overloading caused it to begin to capsize at sea. In no time at all, the boat sank with its 38 passengers, leaving a trail of desperate women shouting the names of the children they had left behind in Venezuela. Those who did not swim climbed over those who did, in their last attempts to breathe.

 

Yubreilis was fortunate to have learned to swim, thanks to her mother's insistence. Thinking of her three daughters, she began to swim with another woman to a rocky outcrop in the distance. They swam for hours the eight kilometres to the promontory, Patos Island, where they arrived exhausted but alive. Only nine passengers were saved. Many children were left without ever seeing their mothers again, driven out by the criminality and ineptitude of their country's government and devoured by the insatiable Dragon's Mouth.

 

 

7- 58 days

 

2021

Multilayer mono-channel video HD

Duration: 03:43”

Colaboración de Beatriz Santini y Giancarlo Orco

 

 

On 15 April 2020, the Bangladeshi coast guard rescued 382 Rohingya refugees adrift in Bangladeshi territorial waters. They had been at sea for 58 days and were starving. Already 32 of them had died since they set sail and their bodies were dumped in the water.

 

The tragedy of the Rohingya - the most persecuted human group in the world, according to the UN - began in 2017, following a brutal military crackdown on members of this ethnic minority, isolated among Myanmar's Buddhist majority. Thousands take to the sea in an attempt to reach Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia. But fleeing their country, as with all migrants, does not bring relief to the Rohingya. In many cases, they are victims of trafficking in the receiving countries. Prostitution, child exploitation and slavery await them. There is even a clandestine policy by the Kingdom of Thailand to sell refugees arriving in its waters to human trafficking gangs, and those who do not qualify to be traded are simply killed.

8- The search

 

2021

Multilayer mono-channel video HD

Duration: 03:10”

Collaboration of Alejandro Antoni

 

  

Not everyone is indifferent to the tragedy of the migrants who, across the length and breadth of the planet, throw themselves into the great waters, fully aware that their lives may end in that attempt. While bureaucracy, fascism, indolence and wickedness play on their boards and decide the fate of thousands and thousands, many others dedicate - and risk - their lives to support and lend a hand to the victims of so much abuse. These are the rescuers, who, with meagre and insufficient means, spend hours and hours searching the endless corners of the infinite waters for needles in the haystack. They also suffer from hunger, cold and exhaustion. Dazed, exhausted, confused, facing mafias and cynical authorities, they continue their tireless work, hoping to find and rescue some human whose fate fills them with shame and pain. This video is dedicated to the heroic work of these people who vindicate the human condition.