'Dzhangal' a new book by photographer Gideon Mendel provides an alternative portrait of residents of the Jungle refugee camp in Calais, France, by presenting a series of photographs of discarded items such as toothbrushes, playing cards, worn-out trainers, teargas canisters and children’s dolls. The book coincides with an exhibition of large-scale photographs from the series together with an installation of the found objects, on display at Autograph ABP, London, from 6 January – 11 February 2017.
Between May and October 2016 Mendel traveled to Calais several times, tasked to teach photography to refugees as part of a collaborative documentary project. He discovered, however, that many of the camp’s residents were hostile towards the camera; fearing identification could undermine their asylum claims and lead to deportation. They were skeptical that photography would help their situation and Mendel came to share their reservations, feeling that excessive photographic coverage was potentially more exploitative than helpful. Despite being a photographer over 30 years, he began to question whether photography was failing in the face of the enormity of the refugee crisis, reinforcing stereotypes about refugees and further stigmatising them.
His response was to turn his attention to lost objects on the ground to evoke the residents’ humanity through what was discarded. From the social disorder he derived structure by performing a type of contemporary ethno-archaeology. Some objects evidenced the daily violence many experienced; others reflected the banality and domesticity of life at the camp, including the plight of women and children. Visible ingrained dirt and ashes allow the viewer to sense the refugees’ struggle to live ordinary lives under the most extraordinary circumstances.
Mendel’s alternative portraits of the Jungle residents are representative of the plight of displaced people across the globe. He has titled the project ‘Dzhangal’, a Pashto word meaning ‘This is the forest’, the origin of the contentious term the ‘Jungle’.
The book will include over 40 photographs with writing by residents of the Jungle camp – community organiser 'Africa', student and writer Babak Inaloo, artist 'Mani', and teacher Shaheen Ahmed Wali – as well as texts by author and broadcaster Paul Mason and art historian Dominique Malaquais.
Size: 225 x 280 mm
- ISBN 13
- Date Published
- Binding Additional
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