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In 2016, Henk Wildschut self-published Ville de Calais. Not a bad idea for a book that keeps the middle between an artist's book, slow journalism and a pamphlet. A year later, he received the prestigious Prix du Livre d'Auteur at the Arles photography festival. This is partly due to the fact that his subject, the Jungle of Calais, had dominated headlines during the 2015 refugee crisis.
Wildschut was there long before the news cameras arrived. He was there from the start. For example, this photo was taken in February 2006, when only a few men sought refuge in the forests around Calais. In the following years, a community of people emerged who wanted to reach the UK in the hope of a better life. A community that had no fewer than 40 restaurants, 43 shops, 6 bathhouses, 8 bakers, 4 hairdressers and 7 bars just before the heavy-handed closure in 2016. It is that liveliness that makes Ville de Calais not just a very heavy book. Dutch daily de Volkskrant aptly described Ville de Calais as: "an elegant pamphlet, and an epic story about a place in the margins, where history was written and erased."
(Gallery: Galerie Bart)