Shooting Range – Refugee camp – Photography started as an Anthropology based research photography series. While observing the Dutch refugee camp in Heusemoord that was located on a Shooting Range I created these photos.
This research leads to multiple works such as. Tentenkamp – Painting Installation (Refugee camp) and mass migration proposal. Shooting Range – Refugee camp – Photography. During my first visit to the site, it was not possible to enter. During my second visit, I was able to enter on the invite of the refugee’s. I was not allowed to take pictures. Before leaving they checked my camera to make sure no images were taken. All pictures where taken from the outside of the camp with agreement from the inhabitants.
Shooting Range – Refugee camp – Photography shows the stories of the people in the refugee camp.
Starting with the man and the phone. In Dutch society there where a lot of comments about why all immigrants lost their paper and still owned their phones. In order to cross the border onto Dutch ground. They were only allowed to keep one bag. We even heard a story of a guy that needed to choose his dog or his stuff.
So my colleague and I asked why he decided to keep his phone during his journey. The man told me that he kept his phone to keep in touch with his mom. His dad died and his mom was too old to make the road.
As soon as it is safe, he wants to go back.
Because he came from one of the cities, that was under attack he worried a lot. He was happy that he had the pictures of Syria before the war. He told me that he had a good job, made studies in ICT. I asked him if he wanted to return. He told me, being in the Netherlands was only temporary. As soon as it is safe, he wants to go back.
The kids in the courtyard.
Soon after I took the picture they came to see us. They didn’t understand any English but they could after just a couple weeks speak some small words in Dutch. They told us that they were playing and were trying to make us play with them through the gates.
From different countries but good friends
Two dads, from different countries but good friends. Both had their wives with a baby in their home countries, Syria and Afghanistan. They arrived with their daughters and son here in order to protect them. The roads they took were horrible in order to arrive here.
After arrival in the Netherlands, they had been transported between different places. The government promised them to have a house for them in about a month. The reality was that they stayed for 3 months during winter in this camp. The second time I met them there was no running water, no toilets and no heating.
The Afghani man didn’t speak that well English, some words in Dutch. The man from Syria spoke perfect English and also a bit in Dutch. He told me that he was a Muslim. He decided to leave with his kids from Syria.
His Christian neighbours were killed for no reason.
Almost all habitats in that street didn’t survive and he lost a lot of friends because of that. He explained that it didn’t use to matter in Syria what religion you had. He knows his wife, kid and grandma where safe because of the fact they were Muslim, and so-called good Muslims. But he was trying daily to make them come to the Netherlands, he was afraid for their lives. About 1 year later we lost touch but his wife and baby still hadn’t arrived. His girls were doing great in school. Fluent in Dutch at that moment and one of the girls applied to be an architect in art school.
The main square place,
this is where all the action finds place. The camp was divided into 3 groups: A, B, C. They had one cantine where they could go in different hours depending on your letter. The activity tents, sleeping quarters everything. on the left side of the picture. Apparently it was dangerous to go inside. Some groups had formed and they owned the camp side. There were no activities at the camp. They were not allowed to work, nor help the community. Also no immigration or language classes.
This little guy was so proud.
Every day volunteers passed by the camp giving clothing and toys. Mainly for the kids, he made friends with one of the ladies and she fixed him a bike. The moment I was there she was him learning how to cycle. He was so proud and so happy! He approached me to take a picture of him with his bike. My second time at the camp we met again. He was crossing the forest as he owned it. Covered in dirt and smiling, I can’t remember seeing anyone else as happy in my life to have a bike.
The afghanis girl,
I laughed a lot with her, a real teenaged girl. I saw her walking around on her socks with her shoes in her hands. So I asked her what are you doing. She didn’t speak English yet, but her friend translated for me. She told me she got the shoes this morning from the volunteers. Also the coat and the hat. Her shoes were broken from the walking she did. In order to arrive at the borders of the Netherlands.
Apparently she just arrived.
Apparently she just arrived. Yesterday she went to the volunteers to ask for shoes but they didn’t have any in her size. The lady told her to come back today and she had selected these shoes for her. She told me she found them so beautiful that she didn’t want to make them dirty and that’s why she was walking on her socks.
The back entrance of the campsite.
This is where they walked in and out of the camp. The second time when I came around, the government had constructed a road with surveillance cars. The second time around this entrance was closed and covered with a new tent. The people were only allowed to leave the camp with a reason. Or to go into the forest to place their needs since they were no working toilets.
Shooting Range – Refugee camp – Photography is sharing my interpretation of the people in the camps. Every time when I hear the people speak about the luxury they have received it pained my heart. It didn’t feel like a good place, nor a nice welcome, not even a friendly helping hand. Especially the second time this site felt like a prison, they told me it is to protect them, or where they protecting us from them. We will truly never know.
Exhibited at a photography Exposition in Russia for IFMSA. Made in 2016.