I put in my library an old Russian camera, a present of my father on the occasion of my high school diploma. It was this camera that brought me to photography. Very close by is a book. My father had given it a title, and rather curiously a subtitle: “Migrants in transit”. In this book he chronicles the exodus of the inhabitants of Lorraine (a French province close to the German border) in 1939 through the gaze of an 11-year-old child. His gaze. From his wandering, fleeing the German border to seek refuge in France from the inside, an episode remained engraved in my memory. Becoming poor and missing everything, he had gone begging for milk on the farms for his little brother who had just been born. And in this deep France, there were fields, farmers and cows. But there was no milk. No milk for foreigners, for those French who came from elsewhere and called “the refugees”. After many disappointments, a tall black guy appeared in the doorway. He was a pariah, like him, and he shared his milk. My father is the first migrant I have known. I had never thought about this until now, until this series of photographs.
The other, the migrant of today, is an anonymous who populates my daily life. I’m taking his news at breakfast. On the radio, a monochord voice announces the shipwrecks (again this morning), the dead (still eighty this morning) and the missing (another two hundred this morning). Sometimes the tone changes. I learn then that we opened or closed a camp, that we set quotas, that we cannot welcome all the misery of the world… My coffee mug is empty, I turn off the radio. It’s over, until the evening news.
Migrant of yesterday and today, Migrant from here and there, Migrant has a thousand faces. I chose to give him that of a small boat that knocks on our door. He shows us another face, a face that we do not want to see: that of indifference, of distrust, of egoism, of cynicism.