« When the meaning of life has been suppressed, there still remains life. » – Albert Camus, The Rebel
Idomeni, 30th April 2016; Greek Macedonia. 10,000 refugees are standing in a field where wheat was replace by tents, waiting under a stormy sky for the border to open.
North-West of the Idomeni camp: 160ft away from the Macedonian borders; a safety distance set as a precaution to keep from the Macedonian army who threw tear gas canisters a few weeks ago.
Ibrahim is sitting on his bed camp, under a tent made of grey fabric. This is a sturdy fifty-year-old man with a greying beard; his skin is tanned by the sun and he displays a quiet strength that defies heaven and earth in this hostile environment. I watched him build a shelter for his loved ones, facing the unleashed elements, in this camp that reminds me of the anteroom of some damphell.
Ibrahim has four children, from 13 to 21 years old. He used to be a coach in a football club, and even a professional goalkeeper in Syria. Two months have now passed since he and his family have arrived in the camp. People live in this unavoidable present they cannot escape from, but even if the atrocities they went through have been left behind, the brighter future they were promised still seems out of reach – as in this child’s drawing sketched on a sheet that Ibrahim asked me to photograph in a neighboring tent.
Living in the Idomeni camp is a deed of survival. While people are endlessly waiting for the the border to open, kept in suspense by the spreading rumor, the pouring rain is soaking the ground, turning the smallest dirt road into a muddy gutter. The blowing wind is pulling out the tent pegs, hitting the tarpaulins with so much violence they are torn apart. Reason gets drowned in this universe of absurdity.
And before my eyes, Ibrahim, strong and quiet, silently struggling against the elements, just like Sisyphus rolling his rock in his eternal task. A Sisyphus of today, confronting the absurdity of the situation, digging for the meaning of life in his accomplishment and survival, now entirely resting upon the uncertain act of building a shelter.