February 19, 2015

On Those Migrants Up a Pole (POYi Spot News Award)

What is it about this photo of Sub-Saharan migrants high up a pole in Spain’s border town of Melilla that earned AP’s Santi Palacios an Award of Excellence in the 2015 POYi competition’s General News category? The fence frames an immigrant camp on the Spanish side of the Moroccan border.  If most people said: bloodied and bowed, or the dialogue of injury between distressed feet, or the novelty (and symbolism) of suspension, I’d add another thing. Given the everyday (versus the more spectacular) visibility of the migrant and the crisis of immigration, isn’t it also significant how they are couched, and the lower man tucked between a light fixture?

(If it’s actually a speaker, by the way, voicelessness is invisibility’s cousin.)

(photo: Santi Palacios/AP. caption: A sub-Saharan migrant sits on top of a pole set in a metallic fence that divides Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Thursday April 3, 2014. Spanish and Moroccan police have thwarted a fresh attempt by dozens of African migrants to try to scale border fences to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Thousands of sub-Saharan migrants seeking a better life in Europe are living illegally in Morocco and regularly try to enter Melilla in the hope of later making it to mainland Spain.)

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Michael Shaw
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