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Solomon, Hamed, Jemal, Ramin, Tesheme, Ahmed. They fled Eritrea, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, for economic or political reasons, and have just arrived in France. They are between 18 and 31 years old. The Afghans crossed Iran, Turkey, Greece, then the countries of Central Europe. For those coming from East Africa, the trip was made through Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Italy … Like a large majority of migrants, these are young men who left everything in the hope for a better future. For some, it was to save their lives.

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The shooting device was simple. A stool and a single light source. Three backgrounds of neutral and soft colors, similar to those of our interiors, as if to say that these men alone too are entitled to a cocoon. Beige, gray and blue, also symbols of the homeland, the concrete of our cities, the blue and hope. But also from the Mediterranean, a cemetery for several thousand migrants each year. The source of lighting is a direct and raw light, reminiscent of that of their countries of origin which draws on their faces contrasting geographies.

The display device is also basic, inspired by the makeshift shelters they make: a wooden crate, a survival blanket, a headlamp. A dark room with black walls and six boxes from which light emerges. Men so distant and so close. So distant because coming from elsewhere that we know p by Philippe Monges had, conveying a culture, beliefs, customs that are foreign to us. So close they occupy the media space, they are so exposed.

Another exhibition is offered here. Intimate and precarious, she tries to capture their gaze. As for their spirit, where is it really? Again with those they have left for months or years. Here. Or in the uncertain future he is trying to build. I will leave you with them.

Philippe MONGES

These portraits were produced with the help of EMMA√úS Solidarit√©, manager of the Paris-Nord humanitarian center. They were presented in 2017 during the Month of Photography in Greater Paris at 6B in Saint-Denis, then in Paris and at the Rencontres de la photographie d’Arles.

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