Asylum Seekers, we know they stay here. But were do they stay? For my project Retour Afzender I went looking for these places and visualized this into a multimedia project.
The most important goal in this project, was to combine al the different information into a clear overview of the Dutch asylum system. At the beginning I already knew I didn’t want to make a book. A book can have a closed character and I wanted that to spread the word with my project. Therefore I decided I had to make a website, a website where al the elements of storytelling will come together. Mostly in photography it isn’t enough to view a photo on the web. For me the idea of a website immediately felt right. I found a new way to tell the asylum story.
In my project photography is the basis. I photograph the locations were they stay during the process. On the photo’s that I take, I want to show an open-minded view of the locations were the refugees stay during their process. I did this to photograph the interior of the provisional locations where the asylum seekers stay. I tried to not show people on the pictures of the interior. I did this primarily so that people can easily identify themselves with the places, when there are no people in the picture. Secondly there are a lot of photography projects about refugees with the people as subject.
For the storytelling of the system, I needed more than photography. I also used illustrations, maps, text and infographics. With the illustrations I visualized the steps in the system procedure. On my website is each stop a different location in the system. All te stops are a categorie. Here it was essential to work with icons to make it visual. Every asylum seekers centre works with icons to make it visual for the asylum seekers. Most of asylum seekers can't speak Dutch when the come here, so they use symbols for the communication. Important information was where the asylum seekers were in the country. I used maps to locate them. They experience the Netherlands completely different. They see a lot of very weird place names where the most of the Dutch themselves, have never heard off. The asylum seekers centre are far away from the bigger cities. The majority of the centers are in the east of Holland. Sometimes there is no public transport, isolating the asylum seekers from the Dutch society. The greater part of the information I inserted into single lines by each picture. By doing so, I could share background information by each picture and I could tell about the system at the same time.
For this project I used a lot of different elements to make an understanding view off the asylum seekers system and the provisional locations. Take a look at the website www.retourafzender.eu. Unfortunately all the text on the website is dutch. The dutch government happens to communicate in the dutch language with the asylum seekers and refugees. As told, most of the asylum seekers can’t speak dutch.