A Zine On The Migration Crisis

Limbo is a zine that investigates the migration crisis with photos and words by Valentino Bellini and Eileen Quinn. “We wanted it to look like a newspaper, since the migration issue is not talked about properly in the media”, Quinn explains. The paper is the only code they borrowed from newspapers though, stepping back from the common narrative of the past 5 years and shifting the focus from data to geography.

Bellini_03DSC_5904.jpg#asset:680:urlPhotograph by Valentino Bellino, from the series "Limbo"

The immigration crisis won’t be solved until one understands that smuggling is a business following the same rules as any other business”, Eileen Quinn, a writer and Human Rights PhD researcher bursts. Along with photographer Valentino Bellini, they followed the road of this 21th century Mediterranean commerce, from their native Sicily to Tunisia. “That’s why I came: to understand how the Africans we’re rescuing in the Mediterranean, and struggling to integrate, get smuggled to Europe by other Africans”, Quinn writes.

Limbo, a zine that combines their photos and words, is the first chapter of their investigation, which they will pursue in Niger and other sub-Saharan countries. “We wanted it to look like a newspaper, since the migration issue is not talked about properly in the media”, Quinn explains. The paper is the only code they borrowed from newspapers though, stepping back from the common narrative of the past 5 years and shifting the focus from data to geography.

Bellini_08DSC_5473.jpg#asset:681:urlPhotograph by Valentino Bellini, from the series "Limbo"

Limbowishes to underline how “destination” has lost its geographic connotation for these men. Hassun, Adama, Usman, Mouhamed and Chams-eddine are all stuck in a place which is not their intended destination, whether physically or psychologically”, she concludes. “The limbo they live through every day in Tunisia is not due to their failure to reach Europe. It is rather their impossibility of crossing a line, of finding a geographic identity.”

Bellini’s photos convey this sense of uncertainty, mostly shot at dawn or dusk, at that time of transition between reality and dreams – dreams that in the case of Bellini’s and Quinn’s subjects have often been wiped away by reality. All of them are compiled in the middle of the book, voicing a unique claim for the right to dignity. Trapped between two shores and spaces – places where architecture is often reduced to barbed wire fences -, the subjects turn visible in the hostile ground where they are left largely ignored. Indeed, “nowhere in the mountain of papers and reports inside the buildings of Tunisian Ministries is there a clear and precise guidance on what to do (or not to do) will illegal immigrants”, a note stipulates.

Close-ups of the sea and questions are spread throughout the book. These questions, “why are you here?”, are those systematically asked by authorities to migrants, we learn in the book. Limbo offers a staggering answer for those not knowing it, or pretending to.


Bellini_34DSC_7102.jpg#asset:684:url
Photograph by Valentino Bellini, from the series "Limbo"

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