AboutAdventure, making money, taking drugs, surviving, growing up. They’ve cleared the first hurdles, and already they think they’ve made it. They’re fourteen, mostly a little older, but at times only nine or ten years old. When the fates of kids who are no longer children, but still far from adulthood, hit up against one of the world’s most strongly guarded borders. Hope, failure, progress: risking everything. These kids become tangled up in history’s intricate machinations. The descendants of a once-occupied people who resisted and were punished in the extreme are now knocking at our doors. The old colonial stigmata stick to them more stubbornly than the motor oil of the ships and trucks that offer them refuge on their path to the future. They are Harraga – the boys who break through boundaries (literally: those who burn). They are the children on the southern border, Europe’s southern border.
For over five years, Charlotte Menin has been accompanying and taking portraits of them in the Spanish enclave of Melilla. The photographs offer insight into the everyday life of these young migrants while calling into question photography’s Eurocentric gaze.