Composite left: The Italian navy ship Orione enters the Spanish port of Valencia, on 17 June 2018, carrying 630 migrants from north Africa. Composite right: Kourtney Kardashian aboard a luxury yacht off the coast of Portofino, July 2018. Credit: Paul Barrena/Kourtney Kardashian.
Two profoundly contrasting photo-images of humans aboard ships in the Mediterranean Sea are representative of the twin poles of extreme inequality now so dominant in life today. The epitome of luxury these days is supposed to be a holiday aboard a yacht in the Med--and photo evidence of such a holiday is likely to be posted on Instagram ("The Gram"). Equally, the height of desperation, anguish and hopelessness today is the plight of migrants crossing the Med in marine craft of any shape or size seeking safe passage into the EU.
Off the coast of Italy, these two super-contrasting types of boat, afloat on the same Sea, must frequently pass each other in close proximity. But, rather than being "ships passing in the night" the two types of vessel (one replete with human misery the other with human enjoyment) seem to float in two absolutely incompatible and irreconcilable realms. To each one the other is unreal, unimaginable, unthinkable--like something from a dream: astonishing but not palpable. The refugees know that no luxury yacht will come alongside to offer assistance, and the pleasured elite know that their Captain will always silently set a course to avoid any distressing encounter with those drifting in sorrow.
(12 July 2018)