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the beach


Located in the North of Portugal, it's a long stretch of sand by the Atlantic Ocean that i know like the back of my hand ever since i was born in this place, Afife. I'm the person who has walked it the most - a self-given, unverified and unverifiable title, which I am certain all of us in the village claim as our own with the same degree of entitlement. For in the mind of each of us, the beach is both a public space and entirely our own private property. It is for us, the fortunate who were born there, not a place of sunny vacation bliss, but a year-round space, to where we turn to independently of season, or weather. And so, we are allowed to see how it changes everyday, to know its many faces, and their variations, and the nuances in these.

The relationship between photography and the beach starts early, with infant pictures taken by zealous parents of baths in shallow waters and messy sand castles, then the teenager snapshots with surfboards, acne and waxed hair, then some more late teens snaps sitting in circles with girlfriends and would-be boyfriends heavily tanned, and then there's a lull because hey, it's creepy to stand on the beach, camera in hand, pointing voyeuristically at half-dressed, carefree people. (Unless you are Martin Parr). That's when technology comes to the rescue, in the form of the phone camera. The images in this first volume of The Beach series were made in the Summers of 2018 and 2019.

About the series: Beaches are special places, they can be said to fit Michel Foucault's description of a heterotopian space, that is, spaces that have an existence (unlike utopias, which don't) but are different, sometimes even opposed, to existing spaces in a given society. In this sense, the beach is where we do almost the opposite to what we do in our everyday lives: we do not work nor aim to be productive (do nothing), we do not get dressed but instead we undress (no clothes), we share the space with others (no private property), we let go of the need for a roof over our heads (no built environment), often we don’t interact with others (no socialisation). More than a place of leisure, which as such has a (recent) history, the beach is a liminal space, the border between land and water, between the earthly and the aquatic spheres, and as such holds a special power.

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