Calais Then (2016), and Then (2019)

Healy, Liam. 2020. 'Calais Then (2016), and Then (2019)'. In: REFUGOV. Luxembourg. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Calais Then (2016), and Then (2019) is a two-screen video depicting the former ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais, France. The film juxtaposes footage shot during a tandem bicycle tour of the camp in 2016, the height of the Jungle’s activity, with footage retracing the same route in 2019, after the camp was shut down. By revealing the re-wilding taking place amidst unused roads and uninhabited shelters, the film is a study into which kinds of life are permitted in a Europe increasingly hostile to displaced people. In 2016, the Jungle camp was home to an estimated 10,000 people and was largely self-built by both displaced people and volunteers working on the site, with little state or NGO intervention. Before the camp was cleared in November 2016, I had set out to explore the ways image-making practices might be symmetrised between researcher and research-subject. To do this I made and deployed the tandem bicycle with cameras and interview equipment used in the film, which could be piloted and ridden by the camp’s residents, volunteers and researchers to record an account of the lived experiences of displaced people in Calais, and the architectures that they had built. In the intervening years, the site has been turned into an ‘eco-park’, the landscape having been modified to be a home for birds, and a tourist attraction. In this setting, ‘natural’ ecology (or perhaps more accurately ‘green-washing’) is cultivated to erase displaced people, their histories, and practices for survival. In 2019, in the camp-become-eco-park, instead of finding those that populated the roads, shops and shelters that I had encountered before, evening primrose flowers have taken root, thick scrub, a community of horses, artificially constructed sand dunes, various small ponds, board-walks, and a bird viewing hide. These new ‘architectures’ take on a new function as part of wider bordering practice in France. The ponds flood the area to prevent people from being able to camp in the space, and the bird hide and newly built board-walks provide the regularly patrolling CRS police with vantage points for surveilling the area.

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Conference or Workshop Item (Other)

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January 2020Accepted

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Date Deposited:

12 Jun 2020 11:18

Last Modified:

12 Jun 2020 11:18


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