mateneen - together - is the name of the ambitious call for projects launched at the end of 2015 by the Œuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte in the context of the migration phenomenon which was at that time reaching its peak. With more than 100 projects which work towards integration and bringing refugees and residents closer together, proposals involve a number of sectors and are often aimed at the entire population in seeking ways to deal with common issues together.
Within this framework, in 2016 the Œuvre commissioned three photographers to document various initiatives. Sébastien Cuvelier, Patrick Galbats and Ann Sophie Lindström have sought to reflect, in their own ways and in line with their personal approaches, the situation of refugees in Luxembourg, and to present an extensive series of images which will be the subject of a full artistic publication. Cercle Cité has joined with the Œuvre to offer a complementary platform for the work of the three photographers and to place before us these ‘new arrivals’ to the country, who are stateless, uprooted, jobless, and called ‘refugees’. For the mateneen exhibition, a small selection of photographs has been chosen which highlights the fragmented dimension of the artistic work from which the stories unfold.
The watchword ‘together’ applies perfectly to the manner in which these three photographers – each of them motivated by the requirement to document current international socio-political subjects without resorting to sensationalism – set about immersing themselves in the topic and the daily lives of people. This approach to meeting others rejects superficiality, clichés, ideas of elsewhere and reveals what connects us all: our human side.
Here, the artists are not trying to relate intolerable experiences, suffering and terror, but rather to translate, far from popular misconceptions, what can appear from within these men and women, their memories, hopes and fears. The result is an empathetic interpretation of these images, snippets which echo true stories and a mirror of our society, steering clear of differences, and with a will to broaden our horizons and raise awareness of the precarious comfort we so take for granted.
Sébastien, of Belgian origin, Patrick, living in Brussels, and Ann Sophie, from Hanover are the three Luxembourgish photographers who take a lighter, more human look at these ‘others’ arriving in the Grand Duchy, whilst referring to the reality of migratory movements, from the past and of the future.
For the hi/stories work, Sébastien Cuvelier chooses to concentrate on five people, of different origins (Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Cameroon) with singular profiles and stories. He leans on current themes recounted, in particular, in international press articles.He is interested in stories, those we all write together and those of these refugees in Luxembourg, with different futures: Farnaz and the Iranian poetry of Shiraz, Nisreen and the Palestine of her heart, little known yet very accessible, Yannick and the Cameroonian colonial past which haunts an entire continent, Yasha and his profound Christian faith in an Islamic country, Khalid and his escape from Bagdad via the sea which left him terrified of water.
Ann Sophie Lindström's work is based on her sincere interest in human beings, and her need to spend time with people and follow their daily lives helps develop and give direction to her work through the process. The work of this “visual storyteller” gives an intimate picture of the people and places that she documents. Her stories concentrate on marginal communities of people who are generally ignored by society. Although accounts of the conflicts in Syria and Irak reach us via the media, finding yourself faced with the people who have lived through them changes everything.
Patrick Galbats, former photographer for the d’Lëtzebuerger Land newspaper, roams the streets and turns his gaze to the (in)activity of all the nameless individuals that he comes across. For the Waiting Room series, he visits, notably, the temporary accommodation of refugees in Luxembourg and recreates atmospheres through photographs. These are not just portraits, but environments and objects that he captures and wants to define, such as contemporary still lifes, investigating an alternative way to represent a terrible subject and the painful experiences of life and survival through images. A discrete selection of his photographs symbolise long periods of waiting, isolation, manual activities, as well as solidarity and memories, the past, and futures to be built.
A collection of visual fragments - showing dark times, out of frame – which inevitably limits understanding to individual experience and at the same time supports perspectives on a common future, that of the (im)migrant, to perhaps, draw closer to the reality and the viewpoint of a rebirth.
ARTISTS Sébastien Cuvelier, Patrick Galbats, Ann-Sophie Lindström
CURATOR Anouk Wies
ORGANISATION Cercle Cité
In collaboration with Œuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte
Everyday from 11 am to 7 pm | Free entrance
Cercle Cité, entrance: rue du Curé
Free guided tour every Saturday at 3 pm
Workshop with Patrick Galbats, in the frame of the "mateneen" exhibition
Organized by Cercle Cité, in collaboration with the "Œuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte"
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