Exhibition / Museum
Calais. Witnessing the ‘Jungle’
Bruno Serralongue. Agence France-Presse. Les habitants.16 Oct 2019 - 24 Feb 2020
The event is over
Designed as a mediation, an experience and a comparative approach to an image of our era, that of migration, "Calais témoigner de la ‘jungle’ -Witnessing the ‘Jungle’" focuses on the situation of the refugees in a camp on the outskirts of Calais, nicknamed ‘The Jungle’, prior to its dismantling in October 2016.
Through three perspectives, that of artist Bruno Serralongue and his documentary project Calais (2006-2018), the photos of Agence France-Presse published in the media and witness accounts by former residents, the exhibition explores the various functions, roles and statuses of the image and highlights the extent to which the Centre Pompidou is also a social and political venue.
11h - 21h, every days except tuesdays
Presentation of the exhibition
Beginning in 2005, Bruno Serralongue captured different moments in the lives of the exiles, their first provisional camps and their attempts to reach England, the installation of the "State shanty town", until it was dismantled. His images form part of a slow temporality, establishing a distance from the event. They thus provide an alternative to the media images while borrowing from the visual tradition of history painting. At the same time, the French photographer's exhibition showcases the recent acquisition by the Centre Pompidou of a part of the Calais series.
The print and online publications of the Agence France-Presse photographs provide another example of the role of photography. Media images focus more on events than on everyday life; they must inform and be noticed in an environment in which the attention of the public is increasingly volatile. Transmitting a twofold intention, these images condense a great quantity of information and communicate an iconic image that escapes the standard stereotypes of the subject. Produced in conjunction with Agence France-Presse, this section shows interviews with the players, and with other personalities from the media world or the world of voluntary associations. These testimonies are brought together in a film by Andreas Langfeld, the German artist.
Lastly, the third part of the exhibition provides a mouthpiece for the residents. The vision of the migrants thus provides a different interpretation of the events and living conditions of the residents of the "jungle". Their photos and videos show another reality. Unlike those presented by the media, they showcase the importance of an existential tool: the mobile telephones that are used not only as a means of communicating with their families and instruments of navigation on the road but also as cameras. The photographs exhibited are not only those of amateurs but also of artists and image professionals who have sometimes achieved this status by the force of circumstances. Among the photographers: Shadi Abdulrahman, Riaz Ahmad, Alpha Diagne, Zeeshan Haider, Ali Haghooi, Babak Inanlou and Arash Niroomand.
This last section also presents the new film by young Iranian author Babak Inanlou, which constitutes a reflection on the images of the "jungle". The end of the exhibition schedules a new participative action by Séverine Sajous and Julie Brun, who organised a workshop in Calais in 2015 entitled Jungleye. Their new project with the support of Emmaüs Paris establishes a link between Calais and Paris, reminding us that the "Calais jungle" was just one configuration of a phenomenon that remains topical: exile and migration.
By Florian Ebner
Curator, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, curator of the exhibition
In Code couleur n°35, september-december 2019, p. 36-37