The three figures are related but the relationship may be relatively ambiguous. The effect is disquieting. It is disturbing that the pair are undisturbed. The pair sitting seem to be oddly calm with a threatening figure nearby. Does the threatening figure represent a structure of violence or an individual violent response? Does the pair represent a single idea or two separate responses? Is the calmness an unawareness, a superiority or an act of resistance? Much like real life, the scene incorporates difficult and competing messages.
The image is based on a powerful moment from the end of our first day of immersion. M who shared his story with us earlier in the day. It was clear his pastor had become a mother figure for him. At one point, late in the day, M had protectively draped his arm around his pastor’s back and rested his head on her shoulder. She received this as normal, unremarkable, and continued taking notes. The presence of the threatening other makes concrete several forms of violence in M’s story: war in his country of origin, in the desert, in the jeep with no water, at the second border, with the traffickers, at the seaside, in the boat, at the landing. The violence was impersonal and ever present. This moment illustrated the reality that love casts out fear. Forging loving relationships is a powerful act of defiance and resistance.