the changing landscapes of the calais refugee camp
Henk Wildschut documents the evolution and destruction of The Jungle, and the lives and hopes of its inhabitants in his latest exhibition.
The refugee camp in the French port of Calais has been in the news regularly over the past year or two, a focal point of the global refugee crisis; but it has in fact been standing for a full decade. Home to refugees and asylum seekers waiting to cross into the UK, the site -- controversially termed 'The Jungle' -- has grown with each wave of people arriving, steadily developing into more of a city than a camp. Since February 2016, however, the site has started to be demolished under instruction of the French authorities and thousands have been evicted.
Photographer Henk Wildschut has been following the changes in Calais since 2005 but stepped up his visits in the past year, documenting the expansion of the camp into a city-like landscape of makeshift houses, restaurants, churches, mosques and libraries, as well as it's current dismantling.
In new exhibition opening this week, titled Calais - From Jungle to City, Wildschut presents a different perspective on the refugee crisis, an alternative field of vision to the highly emotive images that we see in the news on a regular basis. But despite avoiding snapshots of heart-breaking and personal stories that flood the media, his photographs depicting the tracks left behind bring a deeper insight into the complex problems presented by the current crisis. The exhibition will continue to transform during its time at the Foam museum in Amsterdam, as new work is steadily added to reflect the continually changing structure of the camp.
Calais - From Jungle to City is at Foam in Amsterdam, 8 April - 5 June 2015.
Text Lula Ososki