El Peso de mis Vecinas

El Peso de mis Vecinas

The Weight of my Neighbours is a project in process about the marginality and migration of my moroccan neighbours in Barcelona and at the Melilla border.


It focuses on the lives of female ’Contrabandistas’, the so called Porteadoras at the Melilla border and a group of female marginated, moroccan immigrants in my neighbourhood in Barcelona. The methods to investigate about their weightfull circumstances is through living with them and composing songs while cooking, cleaning or during loose reunions at home. Composing songs that narrate about intimate lives is a tradition formerly relegated especially to Amazigh women of Northern Morocco and executed mainly in familiar contexts but also at weddings or other festive acts.

The projects does not pretend to be a reliable anthropological research but a chaotic collection of string narratives that do not distinguish between fabulation and report. Close ups in photography of faces were mainly avoided but a continuous practice of live drawings reflect portraits and gazes that were only possible in intimacy.

The following pictures reflect a 6 weeks visit and coexistence in Nador in the house of newly known women who earn their living with ‘trabando’. ‘Trabando’ is a combination of two Spanish words, trabajo (work) and contrabando (smuggle) and indicates the a-legal activity of transporting goods from Melilla to Nador that they are capable to carry with their bodies.

The investigation of this project is made possible especially by a grant from Barcelona Producció 2017/2018 and La Capella. It was also supported vitally by Jiwar, creació i societat, the artist residency in Marrakech Le18, Institut Ramón Llull and Nau Côclea in Camallera. You can have a regular update on the project through my Instagram account: schultz_and_more

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One of these women is the Porteadora with whom i spent a couple of days. The other is her landlord of a minuscule room without windows and the third is a neighbor with a golden teeth and a crooked smile. The following portrait is hers.

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In October the border was closed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the atipical traffic. Since I left, it is only open two days a week. Nadias, Hafedas and Luizas despair is overcome by cooking, singing and talking about not much.

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This is how a Moroccan wedding looks from the backside. The garage is the kitchen and the kitchen where men will eat as invisible as possible. Stti and Fatima are between 60 and 80, neither of them knows her exact age, and manage the 28 shared plates going out for the guests. Fatima is the groom’s grandmother and Stti the neighbor. It’s a all women run heavy work which needs a lot of collaboration from neighbor to neighbor.

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Nadia, contrabandista, she doesn’t like the word ‘porteadora’, gets up at 2h30 in the morning to wait sometimes 5 hours in the cue at the Melilla border until the door opens. When she comes back for lunch with a big smile on her face for her three small children and also for me, she has already spent about 14 hours awake.

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The day I waited outside of the door of the barrio chino for Nadia to come out, I spend one morning together with Syrian refugees who waited anxiously for the gate to open and maybe take a chance to blend in with all the people, who once orderly in a cue, stream out like overfloating water, rolling or carrying their huge **bultos ** as fast as possible. I wouldn’t imagine at that point that I would see them all again the last day I decided to spend in a hotel instead of staying at Luiza’s. Here is Samira having a break from her multiple brothers, sisters and cousins and their fathers waiting here in Nador to follow their mothers who managed to slip through the Moroccan guards mostly disguised as Porteadoras. Morocco won’t let them pass to seek help at the CETI, the governmental center for war refugees.

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Both of the travels were made by boat, minimum 25 timeless hours floating slowly and solemnly through a worldly waters, whose only frontiers were different telephone companies. The visit ended with the same women sharing the cabin with me who during my stay in Nador also shared her life with me.

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As I said in the beginning, this is a multiple storytelling with many things to talk and think about. What of the freshly cooked material will be part of a multi branched piece I will know soon. Enshallah.

This is the project’s instagram



More works

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