Documentary Photography

Posts tagged “Europe

New Website Online

I have spent the last couple of months on having a new website built which does a better job of showcasing new and old work. Please click HERE or the link below to go and explore!

http://andersbirger.com/

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The Invisible Ones – The story of a capsizing

CLANDESTINO

The story of a capsizing

This is an extract from my project on African migrants living in Nouadhibou, Mauritania, waiting for their turn to set out to sea, risking their lives getting to Fort Europa (2008)

“We could hear the sirens night and day & day and night. After the third day, everything suddenly went quiet. Eleven of my friends jumped off the boat, they couldn’t handle the waiting, and they decided to swim for the shore. One by one we saw them disappear in the waves. They got eaten by the sea”. This tells Babacar Diops.

The up to 800 kilometers (500 miles) across the ocean takes place in small fishing boats packed with up to 90 migrants in each. The Spanish NGO “Organization for Human Rights in Andalusia” estimates that up to a thousand people died last year in their attempt to cross the sea.

Babacar Diops’s pale palms turn towards the sky. His eyes stands out like cracked china. Through the last year and a half, Babacar has seen fifteen of his friends die of hunger, deceases or drowning. First time was after four days in a small fishing boat riding a rough sea towards the Canary Islands. When the Spanish coastguard stopped the boat, Babacar couldn’t speak anymore.
“I was in the hospital for three days before I regained conscience. I was almost dead”. Four of the other 64 passengers never woke again.

For one week he was lying in a hospital bed, looking out of the window. Looking at Europe living it’s life, smelling the foreign country and listening to the sounds of another world. Then he was sent back home.
The police took him to the plane, the plane took him to Mauritania and Mauritania took him to jail. In his backpack he had €500, donated by the Spanish Red Cross. After 10 days in custody, he was given back to the streets. Both the backpack and the money had disappeared in the police storage.

One year after his first attempt, Babacar found himself mashed together with 73 other hopeful migrants in the bottom of a small wooden boat again trying for Europe. This time didn’t go as well as the first. They quickly lost their bearings and were left drifting the open sea for eight days in the hands of the North Atlantic currents before they by chance finally saw the coastline of Spain. But the coastguard were again blocking their way to the beaches of Las Palmas.
“The police threw us bundles of food and water, but they didn’t want to touch us. They only wanted to make sure we didn’t get any further”.

It took three days before desperation took over. Eleven of Babacar’s friends jumped overboard. They all drowned. After that the survivors where brought ashore. Two days later, they were back on a boat. This time they were going in the opposite direction. In Mauritania the police were waiting. The sentence was doubled, 20 days in the local internment camp nicknamed “Guantanamo”.

Today, only six months after he last looked death in the eyes, he’s again scouting the sea. Looking for the next boat that might take him to Europe.

CLANDESTINO

CLANDESTINO

CLANDESTINO

CLANDESTINO

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CLANDESTINO

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CLANDESTINO


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Refshaleøen

I am working on a new project documenting the small island Refshaleøen in Copenhagen leading up to the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 that will take place there.

Here’s a taster…


This Damn Weather @ The Photographers Gallery

The prints are back home and as you can see they are not receiving nearly the same amount of attention as earlier…

More than 10.000 visitors saw the Fresh Faced + Wild Eyed exhibition at The Photographers Gallery in London in the two weeks it was shown.

The Photographers’ Gallery was the first independent gallery in Britain devoted to photography and today it is the largest public gallery in London dedicated to photography.

I love the big rooms, natural light and the central location (right next to Oxford Circus) of the gallery. Furthermore they have a quite remarkable book, print and photo brick-a-brack shop in the basement with some real gems. I recently stumbled upon a book signing by Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012 shortlist Rinko Kawauchi and acquired her book ‘ILLUMINANCE‘. Beautiful work!

It was a very strong group of photographers exhibited and genres going off in all directions. One of my favorites were Paula Gortázar’s ‘Common Space’ that ‘depicts the interiors of the European Parliament in
Brussels and Strasbourg, an institution which, despite being little understood
or liked by many citizens, is gaining a prominent role in legislating our
everyday European living circumstances.’ (From the website)

Another excellent piece of work was Nadège Mériau’s makro photography recreating cosmos. Wow!

My good friend and fellow photographer Steve Mepsted dropped by the gallery, snapped these two shots and later retold the whole scene to me…

Photo by Steve Mepsted

Photo by Steve Mepsted

‘There were a group of kids with their teacher and they were looking at the painted mural image and one boy was saying ‘I swear that’s Photoshop’. The teacher said they didn’t know as the artist wasn’t there. I was able to fill them in on details!! They were delighted and amazed at the image and the boy couldn’t believe it was a painting on such a scale – ‘Shows they’ve got power’ he said!’

Just amazing getting this kind of invaluable feedback!

This has been a great experience and I’m truly thankful that I’ve been a part of it. The staff at The Photographers Gallery have done a great job in pulling this together and especially curator Karen McQuaid for getting it all to run smoothly while having to deal with 22 photographers at the same time, not an easy job I would imagine!

I’m now in touch with a range of galleries, working on getting a solo show up and running while I’m preparing for the next leg of this story that includes a trip to Jordan in the near future. More on this next time.

Until then…


New Media And The Arab Spring

As a part of my long term project on new media and social revolutions I’ve been visiting Barada TV which is a privately run Syrian television channel broadcasting from London.

Barada TV is available through satellite and online all over Europe and the Middle East and is critical of the Syrian regime. The channel interacts with it’s audience through Twitter, Skype and Facebook and broadcasts videos taken from Youtube, filmed by rebels and activists inside Syria.

I am now working on the next part of the story where I am photographing Syrians in exile and focussing on the way they interact with other Syrians in and outside Syria and how they stay up to date with developments in the conflict.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have a question, critique or ideas!


Roskilde Festival

I’ve been commissioned to shoot at the Roskilde Festival again this year. I’ll be working with the news site Modkraft.dk on stories and series from the festival starting today.

Really looking forward to get some good shots of musicians and bands such as Jack White, The Gossip, Janelle Monáe, The Roots, Bruce Springsteen and some of the other 127 bands playing on this years festival.

As a warm-up for today’s grand opening I’ve put together a “best-of” last years festival. Follow me here and on Modkraft.dk for the next week and a day to get in knee deep with Danish festival culture!

Here we go…

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Fortress Europe

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With Death as Companion

“We could hear the sirens night and day & day and night. After the third day, everything suddenly went quiet. Eleven of my friends jumped off the boat, they couldn’t handle the waiting, and they decided to swim for the shore. One by one we saw them disappear in the waves. They got eaten by the sea”. This tells Babacar Diops.

The up to 800 kilometers (500 miles) across the ocean takes place in small fishing boats packed with up to 90 migrants in each. The Spanish NGO “Organization for Human Rights in Andalusia” estimates that up to a thousand people died last year in their attempt to cross the sea.

Babacar Diops’s pale palms turn towards the sky. His eyes stands out like cracked china. Through the last year and a half, Babacar has seen fifteen of his friends die of hunger, deceases or drowning. First time was after four days in a small fishing boat riding a rough sea towards the Canary Islands. When the Spanish coastguard stopped the boat, Babacar couldn’t speak anymore.

“I was in the hospital for three days before I regained conscience. I was almost dead”. Four of the other 64 passengers never woke again.

For one week he was lying in a hospital bed, looking out of the window. Looking at Europe living it’s life, smelling the foreign country and listening to the sounds of another world. Then he was sent back home.

The police took him to the plane, the plane took him to Mauritania and Mauritania took him to jail. In his backpack he had €500, donated by the Spanish Red Cross. After 10 days in custody, he was given back to the streets. Both the backpack and the money had disappeared in the police storage.

One year after his first attempt, Babacar found himself mashed together with 73 other hopeful migrants in the bottom of a small wooden boat again trying for Europe. This time didn’t go as well as the first. They quickly lost their bearings and were left drifting the open sea for eight days in the hands of the North Atlantic currents before they by chance finally saw the coastline of Spain. But the coastguard were again blocking their way to the beaches of Las Palmas.

The police threw us bundles of food and water, but they didn’t want to touch us. They only wanted to make sure we didn’t get any further”.

 

It took three days before desperation took over. Eleven of Babacar’s friends jumped overboard. They all drowned. After that the survivors where brought ashore. Two days later, they were back on a boat. This time they were going in the opposite direction. In Mauritania the police were waiting. The sentence was doubled, 20 days in the local internment camp nicknamed “Guantanamo”.

Today, only six months after he last looked death in the eyes, he’s again scouting the sea. Looking for the next boat there might take him to Europe.

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“Clandestinos” living in an abandoned fish processing factory.

Senegalese migrant preparing for the Muslim midday prayer in Nouadhibou’s shanty town.

Nigerian migrant women have opened a small shop where they sow and sell their textiles in order to save money for the trip. The ticket can cost up to 1500 Euro.

28 migrants share a small four-room concrete house. Everybody shares the small amount of food that they can amass. The walls are full of pictures showing the latest European pop stars and footballers.

Tidiane Dialleo is 24 years old and from Senegal. He has been living in Nouadhibou for four years now, trying to save up enough money to buy a seat in one of the many small illegal boats crossing the 800 kilometer stretch to The Canary Islands. His only wish is to go to Europe and start a new life. As he says “I don´t know the life in Europe, I don´t know the people or the kindness. Maybe there, I can be a big man”.

The only Catholic Church in the Muslim country of Mauritania has become the meeting place for the migrants, both Christians and Muslims. The Church provides education and courses in how to survive in Europe and tries to train migrants in different occupations, such as cooking and computer skills.

Tidiane is attending an English language exam, his only hope to survive in Europe, is to speak one or more of the European languages. The Catholic Church offers courses in English and Spanish.

The many migrants make it difficult to get a job. Often the migrants are stuck with the most dangerous jobs with the lowest wages. Here old shipwrecks are cut up and sold as scrap.

The beaches are filled with trash and packs of wild dogs roaming, living on the waste from the fishing boats.

Mauritania has sold many of its fishing quotas to richer nations, so the coastline is full of industry trawlers from China, Russia and Europe. As a fisher complains, “before the sea was full of squids and fish, now the only thing we catch is water”.

The gap between the city and the sea is a wasteland used for garbage disposal and housing for the poorest.