'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.

after dance.jpg
P - afghan blues.jpg

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

warehouse 1.jpg
P - star wars.jpg

May I ask

do we have to end star wars

to get peace on Earth ?


easy cleaning.jpg

easy cleaning

P - happybirthday 2.jpg

I have a tie

today is my birthday

happy birthday to me

P - superman 2.jpg
fast distro.jpg

Superman is from another planet

I'm not

I just have his t-shirt

fast distro

like flower.jpg
P_nice city.jpg

three little birds on my door step:

'Nice city, hey?'

- Well, loads of parking...

like flower

P_out of hospital.jpg
water distro.jpg

I just left the hospital

I keep the white bracelet

so people are kind to me

water distro

Calais youth support.jpg
P_learn to fly.jpg

crossing seas

daring Earth

I'm learning to fly

Calais youth support


a proverb:

'if you are in Calais, and you can't see the cops,

you are not in Calais'

jungle style.jpg

Jungle style


I found a dog

a nice one



shave / shaving

P_need a hand.jpg

we all need a hand to feel safer

we all need a hand

we all need

P_let's sort it.jpg

If you have any questions, ask an orange hi-vis

they won't have an answer

but will say: 'Let's sort it!'

P_glad to volunteer.jpg

I'm glad to volunteer

I'm not afraid of this world

I can drive

Eid food is to share.jpg

Eid food is to share

big city secret.jpg

big city secret

P_rest and charge.jpg

forcing night security

all day walking

where do I rest and charge?

P_older than you.jpg

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.


Curated by 



All photos, captions and poetry © Sylvain de Saturne. The prints are for sale through: sylvaindesaturne@gmail.com