Earlier this summer I traveled to Tanger, Morocco.
I was drawn to this city as a borderland, a liminal or transitionary space defined by its proximity to whatever else might lie in reach. You can actually see Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar on a clear day, and European day tourists arrive in droves to eat and shop, only to turn around and head back in the evening. In contrast, the trip across the Mediterranean is a much different prospect for citizens of African countries – thousands of people die each year while trying to cross the water separating the African continent from its northern neighbor. The immigration policies and physical borders of ‘Fortress Europe’ have become increasingly complex as the western economy has broken down, but this does nothing to address the disparity of wealth and resources between the two regions.
The more I learned about European immigration policies and the struggle many Africans endure for the slightest chance of a better life within the borders of the EU, the more I was able to compare the phenomenon to migration trends from Latin America to the US. It’s been years since I visited Tijuana or Juarez, but I still remember the feeling that these cities and their neighbors on the other side aren’t Mexico or the United States or like anywhere else… except other border towns.
I went to Tanger to take a personal look at the way the northernmost tip of Africa is defined by its proximity to the southernmost reaches of Europe. I looked for scenes that had a transitory or symbolic quality to them, and tried to echo the sense of of impermanence that I felt while wandering through this coastal city. There are a myriad of human rights and economic issues created by natural and political borders and there are many reasons I plan to return to Northern Africa to explore more specific stories. These pictures are part of my reconnaissance and initial impressions of this place — the first step into or out of Africa.