Every year thousands of people attempt the dangerous crossing from Africa’s north-west coast to the Canary Islands, pursuing the promise of a better life in Europe.
Many drown or die of exposure. Seba Kurtis photographed the stark, fenced-off coastline that greets those who survive, and threw the negatives into the sea. The images that made it ashore – bleached, worn and scarred – come to life in ‘Drowned’.
A series of flood-damaged photographs rescued from the home of Kurtis’s grandmother before his family fled a financially-ruined Argentina in 2001, connect the harsh impersonal processes of the sea to the deeply emotional experience of migration, with all the risks and sacrifices such a journey entails.
Seba Kurtis born in Argentina, 1974, grew up in Buenos Aires under a violent and bloody dictatorship regime. He studied journalism and was a political activist. In 2001, Argentina fell under economic and political crisis, unemployment rocketed, banks restricted access to money and chaos developed in the streets. He left for Europe and remained in Spain as an illegal immigrant for over 5 years. This experience became the main inspiration for his work, an exploration of the dynamics behind irregular migration and the resultant impact on culture, society and the individual.
Kurtis’ work has been exhibited internationally, with solo shows in Europe and the USA, and his first book, Drowned (Here Press, 2011), was selected for the International Photobook Award at the International Photobook Festival, Le Bal, Paris, 2012.