Rochers Carrés, 2008
In Algiers, near the Bab el Oued neighborhood, there is a beach that young people nicknamed 'Rochers Carrés'. Constructed by the Algerian President Houari Boumediène´s administration, it looks like a breakwater beach that is made out of huge concrete blocks, whose sides can be up to three or four meters, and faces the sea.
This beach is the ultimate boundary that separates them from this continent but above all from their dreams about a better life. This massive and strange construction imprisons them in their cruel reality, as it is also the case in French banlieues (shantytowns), where many immigrants end up. As time goes by, I find it ironic to have grown up in the middle of concrete buildings of Parisian banlieues, and to have frequently spent my summer vacations playing on this beach’s blocks, also made out of concrete.
The architecture of this beach and the way it has been created look like the urbanism of Parisian banlieues. Do these young people, who scrutinize the horizon hoping to find an answer to their misery, know what kind of environment they will end up in when they will have accomplished the journey through the Mediterranean Sea? The boundary embodied by this beach is not only physical; it is also psychological. Nevertheless, as years go by, I realize that some similarities exist on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea.
The hard existence of these young Algerian people reminds me of that experienced by young people in the French banlieues: the same lack of hope for the future, the same sexual misery, the same frustration, the same lack of social acknowledgement, the same feeling of failure and the same suffering.