A single person and what they wear can be considered like a continent in two senses, the first private and the second historical. What a person’s physical presence contains for someone intimate with that person may be as large and extensive as a continent. The first continent for us all is Mother. Washing on the line is more deeply a flag than most national ones. In the historical moment we are living the most significant phenomenon – if one takes a world view – is the scale of the enforced emigrations taking place.
I say enforced, although they are personally decided, because poverty devastates more widely than any invading army. Month by month millions leave their homelands. They leave because there is nothing there, except their everything, which does not offer enough to feed their children. Once it did. This is the new poverty of the last few decades.
After long and terrible journeys, after they have experienced the baseness of which others are capable, after they have come to trust their own incomparable and dogged courage, emigrants find themselves waiting on some foreign transit station, and then all they have left of their own home continent is themselves: their hands, their eyes, their feet, shoulders, bodies, what they wear and what they pull over their heads at night to sleep under, wanting a roof. In the photographs of Anabell Guerrero, close-ups of such continents are acknowledged time and again, without rhetoric or pathos, but with respect. Hands become tilled earth, a leg a road, a forehead a home, a blanket a field, an eye a delta… [ John Berger ]