Escaping the Heatwave

For many Algerians the coming of the heatwave is synonymous with an escapade to the sea,  because it provides the most accessible and affordable kind of vacation. The temperature can approach 44°c during long summer days.

But for familial and financial reasons not all children have the opportunity to spend a day at the beach, even if the Mediterranean coast is under 65 km away, as in places like Mascara and Relizane. Due to a lack of recreation sites like swimming pools in these parts of the country, children escape the heatwave by going to dangerous spots like abandoned water towers, where injuries are common and the water can be very polluted. You also find youngsters swimming in large irrigation channels in equally deplorable conditions, exposing themselves to countless risks and away from parental supervision.

Escaping the Heatwave shows the plight of children who are ready to do anything to find relief on a harsh day. Scenes from the few public beaches open to children from these economic backgrounds underscore their limited options. Sahraoui’s black-and-white images subtly suspend the action and force the audience to take a deeper look, squeezing details into carefully balanced frames.


Fethi Sahraoui is a self-taught documentary photographer and a member of Collective 220, a group of Algerian photographers who came together in a hotel room during a festival. They are based in different parts of Algeria, and they document the stories of people and spaces in their environments. More about the collective can be found at

Escaping the Heatwave will be published by La Chambre Claire, as a book in a triangle format opening up to square images, paying tribute to the square image format.


The Beni-Chougrane mountain range on the outskirts of Mascara, Algeria, 2016.

The road leading to the water tower, Mascara, Algeria, 2016.

A derelict pool in Pasteur Garden, downtown Mascara, Algeria, 2016.

Inside the water tower, Mascara, Algeria, 2016.

A damaged entrance to the water tower, Mascara, Algeria, July 2016.

Ismael and friends prepare themselves to jump into the basin of the water tower, Mascara, Algeria, 2016.

Ismael with a traditional splint and bandage after a foot injury, Mascara, Algeria, 2016.

A detail of a rock on the beach, Port aux Poules, Oran, Algeria, 2017.

Swimming in an irrigation channel, Relizane, Algeria, June, 2016.

Digging a hole in the sand on the beach, Port aux Poules, Oran, Algeria, 2016.

A lone bather at a Collo beach, Skikda, Algeria, 2017.

Seaweed on the beach, Port aux Poules, Oran, Algeria, 2016.

Fethi Sahraoui 
More from Panorama