Large drawings of various sizes, all done in black chalk, depict boatloads of refugees and are based on media images which Abdessemed found through an Internet search. The title, Lampedusa, refers to the island off Sicily which has been a frequent point of arrival for migrants crossing from the North African coast. A number of shipwrecks have occurred in the waters off Lampedusa, as the migrants’ makeshift crafts have floun- dered and often been abandoned by their captains.
The dozens of photos swamping the media have here undergone a profound transformation when translated into lines of black chalk: acts of rescue, despair, or appeal are sometimes shown alone, in isolation; the sea is sometimes conveyed by the white expanse of paper, sometimes by a dense black mass hard to distinguish from the humans, a visual harbinger of the threat of shipwreck. This process transforms particular, contextua- lized images into an almost mythical depiction of a voyage of migration. The source images, for that matter, do not all pertain to Lampedusa, and come from various contexts. The fact that they are assembled under this title makes that spot the paradigmatic locus of today’s migrations of hu- mans with neither documents nor identity, who possess only their bodies and their lives, a biological mass that is conveyed in these drawings by the compact bulk of migrants and by black handprints, which evoke other bodies and other deeds, as though prolonging the call for help made by these figures crowding the boats. AM
105 x 75 cm