A short film featuring original footage by EFTD and music by Constantine taken from his debut album 'Hades' on Bedouin Records.
According to some accounts, the name ‘Europeʼ stands for ‘where the sun setsʼ. The origin of the word may be deriving from the Akkad ‘erebu’, which translates as ‘to go down, set’, ‘erebʼ the Phoenician word for ‘eveningʼ, or the primordial Greek deity of Erebus – Έρεβος, ‘deep darkness, shadow’ – a liminal place of darkness between earth and Hades. Such an etymological turn is particularly interesting to consider within the context of contemporary migration, as it invites us to position ourselves east of the continent, on the shores of Asia Minor and the Levant, now dotted with overcrowded internment camps, and look westward, towards the sunset, and across the same sea that today acts as a deterrent for so many. Over the past decade, the maritime space between Europe, Asia and Africa has become one of liminality, diaspora, and displacement. The strategic positioning of spaces for the documentation, interception and holding of migrants and refugees around the Mediterranean basin in Northern Africa and the Middle East, and the subsequent search for more remote and ever-deadlier routes on the part of those who attempt to cross it, hint towards an understanding of European migration management policies as a carefully architectured necropolitical project, if not a blatant affirmation of a recent and still resonant colonial past. The Mediterranean sea, with its territorial waters, contiguous and contested economic zones, patrol areas and shorelines, that historically 'signal a world of mobilities, betweenness, instabilities, encounters and becomingsʼ has been increasingly militarised by European authorities, and as such it has been rendered into a buffer zone, a ‘moat' to the European ‘citadelʼ. It has been made to absorb, to deter, and to kill. A post-colonial abyss, a Black Mediterranean. As Europe is once again becoming the geography of a long dusk, the subjects that are pushed to its shadows, and the people standing in solidarity with them, might find value in entertaining and mobilising this darkness to come. It is within this absence of light, in the fissures and disjunctions in the sovereign state, that one might attempt a flight, a strategic retreat from the stratifying territorial arrangements of the European border management project. If the contemporary national state is a project of soil, we must insist on locating on more liquid ground, where possibilities of disaffiliation, racial and national ‘contamination' and fluid frontiers open up. It is from within this liquid darkness, emblematised by the belly of the boat, the ‘wombʼ that delivered so many bodies to the unknown, that the Martinican philosopher and poet Edouard Glissant proposes a strategy for ‘opacity'. Glissant developed his work Poetics of Relation within the context of a postcolonial Caribbean, yet his logic resonates heavily with the ebbs and flows of what has come to be called ‘the refugee crisisʼ; the lower in the deck one agrees to go, the cheaper the fare smugglers charge for a crossing to Lampedusa, to Malta, to Chios, or Lesvos. As a response to the intensification of such crossings over the past year-and-a-half, the Aegean archipelago, the sea that separates Greece from Turkey, is surveyed, recorded and narrated by a number of optic and sensory regimes. Alongside an aggregation of operational images produced by the machinic vision of the border apparatus, representations of contemporary displacement for humanitarian purposes abound in social and mainstream, sovereign, media. Whether well-intended or not, they form part of a post-colonial gaze, distilled in which are configurations of national and continental identity and empire. A ‘soft evening lightʼ falls on the faces of the people who attempt to cross it – where bodies are stopped, images proliferate.
- Words by Stefanos Levidis
- Shot and edited by EFTD