Independent publishing house Loose Joints has released Dialect, a photo book by Colombian photographer Felipe Romero Beltrán that explores the experiences of adolescent migrants arriving in Spain.
Training his lens on nine Moroccan teenage boys stuck in bureaucratic limbo in Seville, having crossed the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life, Beltrán attempts to understand their situation as they await legal status in the country.
Using a combination of documentary, performance, and choreography, he engages with the body as a metaphor, examining the “weight of dead time” through intimate portraiture of the boys.
Beltrán photographs the mundanity of their daily rituals, as they smoke, sleep, eat, work out, and give each other haircuts within the clinical confines of their internment building. They will remain here for up to three years before being released, and the photographs reveal the inhumanity of the process, positioning the boys as prisoners of state oppression.
Working collaboratively with them, Beltrán captures reenactments of the experiences they went through on their arduous journey across the border, including being squeezed onto a small boat with 80 other people.
These reenactments serve both as compositional tools and as a form of therapy for the group, with Beltrán saying that they found some acceptance by reliving these experiences and observing them through the photographic medium.
Alongside the evocative portraits, Beltrán also presents stills from a video recording of the group, in which they recite the first four pages of the Spanish immigration law – the details of which “regulates and controls their migration status”.
Throughout, Dialect emphasises the alienation and stagnation that the group endures at the hands of bureaucracy – experiences that are found not just in Spain, but in almost all EU countries.
Dialect by Felipe Romero Beltrán is published by Loose Joints; loosejoints.biz