Over a period of three years from 2013 to 2016, photographer Carlos Spottorno and reporter Guillermo Abril received regular commissions from El País Semanal, the weekly magazine of the important Madrid-based daily newspaper, to document the outer borders of the European Union. From the Spanish enclave of Melilla in Morocco to the edges of Finland and Russia, beyond the polar circle, via the Italian island of Lampedusa or Greece, they covered thousands of kilometres.Their work coincided with the migrant “crisis” which led them to cover it. But such is not the main issue at stake in their project. Indeed, the point is to question the notion of border and to consider the perception of the residents of these regions as well as the geopolitical stakes involved. Their conclusion is that there are multiple cracks threatening Europe and its neighbours.
At the end of the journey, Carlos Spottorno decided to make a book. Wishing to reach out to audiences beyond the mere photography community, he decided to adopt the codes of the graphic novel. To that end, he applied a digital treatment to his images in order to “flatten” them and bring them closer to drawing, while Guillermo Abril filled the frames with the words of their experience. It was an immediate success. The first Spanish edition was out of print within three weeks and the book is now available in French, German and Italian. The authors unassumingly invented a new photographic narrative mode able to appeal to the general public.