'Avec' a project by Sylvain de Saturne | curated by RÅN
These pictures have been shot in and around my hometown, Calais, from summer to winter 2017.
In 2016 the so-called ‘Jungle’, a shantytown where 10,000 humans in exile stayed trying to reach UK, was demolished and its residents evicted.
Despite the decreasing number of people, the living conditions were the worst we ever saw in Calais while I was working for a grass-root local NGO.
We sued the city and the French state for inhuman treatment while we provided water, food, sleeping bags, electricity and legal information.
At this time, we were looking to create solidarity together, not charity.
One day, I had to organise a special distribution (distro) and I worked alongside a community leader.
To explain to my team whom to give the required items to, I had to describe him, but I was in a hurry.
I decided to take a picture of him, when he said: 'Not my face, my friend'.
As you may know, a lot of asylum seekers have to lie about their journey across Europe just to be considered eligible by the Home Office. If their faces are seen in the media, it could corrupt their future.
When I sent the picture, one member of my team said: 'Nice portrait!'.
In my mind a 'no face' portrait couldn't work or couldn't be considered nice. But it clearly showed a reflection of the politics around - when we try to hide a problem it does not erase it, the human story will always shine through.
The situation of displaced people in Northern France and Belgium is still very difficult. If you want more info, or would like to help, please check RCK refugeecommunitykitchen.com.
Eíd mabrouk, clean and dressed well
soon we gonna dance
the Afghan blues
after the dance
I'm not selfish
I take a selfie
to share hope with my family
May I ask
do we have to end star wars
to get peace on Earth ?
I have a tie
today is my birthday
happy birthday to me
Superman is from another planet
I just have his t-shirt
three little birds on my door step:
'Nice city, hey?'
- Well, loads of parking...
I just left the hospital
I keep the white bracelet
so people are kind to me
I'm learning to fly
Calais youth support
'if you are in Calais, and you can't see the cops,
you are not in Calais'
I found a dog
a nice one
shave / shaving
we all need a hand to feel safer
we all need a hand
we all need
If you have any questions, ask an orange hi-vis
they won't have an answer
but will say: 'Let's sort it!'
I'm glad to volunteer
I'm not afraid of this world
I can drive
Eid food is to share
big city secret
forcing night security
all day walking
where do I rest and charge?
I just put my glasses in my pocket for your picture
I don't need to see what I know
I'm older than you
some of us stayed here
I found a roof, a job and a nice person
today is our wedding
We selected Sylvain’s image collection for its truthfulness.
In the years when Calais became a temporary home for thousands of migrants, there has been a huge amount of documentation that has been carried out by the Western media and by creatives on the subject. While we believe that there is value in the circulation of news and image making at a time and place of humanitarian crises, we also believe that some of these creative attempts have only intended to capitalise on the theme of ‘crisis’.
This is a practice that is particularly recurrent within photography but can also be seen within ‘voluntourism’.
This series of photographs has never been published before and was not created with the intention of becoming an art project. These images were purely functional - a means of identifying a person from a crowd and to provide support to a wider community.
Here we do not see images that focus on human suffering through a photographer’s lens or have been taken without an exchange with the subject or consideration for them.
These are intimate moments of human interactions that show how life and communities can persevere no matter the conditions or the environment.