Second contribution to the “Call for artists” launched by Talking Hands in response to the new Online Safety Bill which, under the pretext of child protection, proposes in the UK to extend the broadcasting ban also to visual materials that put migrants trying to cross the Channel and reach the UK under a “positive light“.
This episode brings together the works of two authors: the Dutch photographer Henk Wildschut, who since 2005 has documented the rise and fall of the informal refugee camp, also known as the ‘Calais Jungle’, and the Italian architect Riccardo Miotto, who has been developing his own figurative research on the Tent for a decade now.
Wildschut’s projects (Web site – Instragram) generally deal with uprooting and alienation, with people who, due to misfortune or other inescapable circumstances, are forced to improvise in order to survive.
In Riccardo Miotto (Web site – Instragram), the research is concentrated in a more exquisitely architectural sphere, a process that allows us to move away from the drama for a moment and stop to observe its constructive aspects and forms.
That “delicate balance between functional aesthetics and human drama” of which Frank van Der Stok speaks about Wildschut’s work and which the two authors have in common, in Henk taking on almost a metaphysical character and placing a considerable amount of background in the foreground, and in Riccardo Miotto where that same background becomes the stimulus for questioning us about a new idea of spatiality, that “nowhere” that envelops his curtains creating a visual device that functions in both positive and negative and where object and context become interchangeable.
He started his Shelter series in 2005. In 2011 his book Shelter was awarded the Kees Scherer prize for the best Dutch photo book of the years 2009/2010. With Shelter he won the prestigious Dutch Doc 2011 award for the best documentary project.
Wildschut was commissioned by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to work on the theme of food. After two years, the book Food and an exhibition at the Rijksmuseum were produced. Due to the emergence of the refugee crisis in Europe, Wildschut started visiting Calais again in January 2015.
This work is part of the work ‘Ville de Calais‘, which in April 2016 became a self-published book that was nominated by many as one of the best books of the year in 2017 and was awarded the prestigious Arles Prix du Livre in 2017 and shortlisted for the Aperture prize as best book of the year.
Riccardo Miotto lives and works between Treviso and Venice. His work focuses on the design of architectural devices that regulate contemporary space. Tents (Distanz Verlag, Berlin 2022) is his first artist’s book.
His works have been exhibited at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Italian Cultural Institute in Paris, Macro.
“The tent“, writes Miotto, “is a metaphor for that general planetary movement that involves living beings, micro-organisms, but also climatic hyper-objects and devices that leave the earth’s surface, appearing in theatres of war as well as in leisure venues, reminding us of the lay potential of this architecture in a journey that spans human history: the validity of this form lies in its duration. Immersed in an isotropic white field without history, it remains open to multiple interpretations“.