A man, tucked inside an orange knitted cloth that is billowing around him like a tent, is walking along a paved road. He is surrounded by fences. Where is he going? Then another image catches your eye: the border, hermetically sealed with barbed wire. The traveller will never be able to cross over. One thing is clear: he headed somewhere, but he is not welcome. Galerie Bart presents Transit by Henk Wildschut (1967, Harderwijk), an exhibition on refugees who often only reach their destinations in their own dreams.
Henk has been photographing the journeys of groups of displaced persons for over fifteen years. In the process, he has always focused on human resilience and the humanity of the anonymous refugee. The iconic images of the temporary gardens for tents in a UN refugee camp or of a church made of cardboard near Calais are well known. While reflecting on this and on the current war situation, Henk makes a comment on this earlier work. Times have changed, but perhaps so has he. Hope has been replaced by despair about an uncertain future. Despite the strength that lies beneath the way these refugees manage to make something out of their situation, their situation itself must not disappear from view. With a selection of well-known, unknown, old and new photos, Henk tells an story of this indetermination. For as long as he has been documenting the camps, there has been no significant change. The waves of migrants form a tide, but the dam walls are high.
The tent camps embody the struggle that refugees find themselves in. They are not where they wanted to be, they cannot stay, but they also cannot go back. They do not know where they will end up, nor how long it will take.
Henk’s images are multi-faceted. Beautiful, aesthetic, raw, yet also confrontational. Because we know exactly what is happening behind the image, under the surface. They are walking through the forests, but also in limbo. The areas where they spend the night are uncertain, as are their futures. Always moving, but never arriving. The man in the orange shroud has a long road ahead of him.