A Julián Rojas Triptych

Julián Rojas is a photographer for El País, the most influential Spanish language newspaper in the world. Above are three of his recent photos, treating very different, almost antithetical subjects, all of which, nonetheless, share a concern with economics and people in situations of extreme duress. First we see a portrait of two undocumented immigrants (los sin papeles) awaiting deportation in a detention center in Algeciras. These desperate workers have become expendable in the current financial disaster. In the middle photo we see the most famous bullfighter of the day, José Tomás, just escaping a fatal and thoroughly nightmarish goring on Easter Sunday (!) here in Málaga. (Asun was there.) Look closely and note where the bull's right horn is! Yycchs!, that was a close call! Tomas' willingness to take these risks, along with his extraordinary artistry, have brought him tremendous wealth and fame. The last photo shows a line of women crossing from Ceuta, one of Spain's two cities on the coast of Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar, back into Morocco. They go into general merchandise warehouses and load up with a variety of consumer products that they carry into Morocco, thus avoiding heavy customs tariffs for the sellers. They make good money, by Moroccan standards, but it's dangerous work. Apart from the great physical toll (they carry up to sixty pounds), sometimes the border crossing suffers "stampedes", probably provoked, to distract the police so some of them can avoid inspection. Last week two women were killed in a stampede. Julián's photo is rich with irony by virtue of capturing majestically the very straight line the women form. Are they soldiers? Tourists? Obedient like mules? The scene's tragic context offers a minor but poignant glimpse of our globalized world.
     Yes, Julián is a tremendous photographer, but more importantly for me, he's also a good friend, and a more generous soul is hard to imagine. Last night we shared a great dinner over at Murphy's with Asun, Antonio and Maria del Mar. Julián regaled me with two bottles of extraordinary olive oil from his town, Jaén. I just had a little with breakfast. Ohhh!!! Thank you, Julián!