Walking down Rivington Street to get in front of the Autograph ABP gallery is quite a shock. From the carefree hipster crowds of Old street and Shoreditch to what’s left of the most infamous slum in Europe, the Jungle of Calais.
Dzhangal ends this weekend. The exhibition by the photographer Gideon Mendel takes its name from a pashtu word meaning “this is the forest” – from which also “the jungle” derives.
The mind blowing installation consists of various orderly displayed objects that Mendel collected during numerous visits to the refugee camp. The original idea was to teach the migrants photography, but given their reluctancy towards cameras in fear of jeopardising their asylums requests, Mendel decided to turn his attention to the objects on the ground.
In a series of impressing shots – also part of the exhibition – the photographer wanted to capture the humanity of Calais rather than its controversiality, with the aim of creating order from kaos.
The jungle of Calais is no longer a hot topic, gone from our lives as fast as it had appeared. And this was possible no matter the tragedies and the human rights violation that took place.
Gideon Mendel has always dealt with social issues via his photography and another time around has managed to shed a light on a humanitarian catastrophe that was under the world’s eyes but international institutions seem to be ready to forget.
Main image | Eighty-four toothbrushes, collected 21 May, 15 September, 27 October and 28 October 2016, Gideon Mendel
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