How shall we greet the sun

Thana Faroq, Netherlands

This project explores the personal narratives and complex emotional landscape of the lives of a small group of young women refugees living in in the Netherlands. The work reflects on our life journeys, and it seeks to project forward toward futures both real and metaphorical. Many of these women, including myself, are in phases in life where they are challenged to construct identities within new cultural contexts and geographies of power, as well as within their memories and the nostalgic representations of the past they possess. My goal is to explore our emotional interior landscape in light of the changes that we go through. I aim to create a memory archive of our emotions and feelings that are often lost in histories of migration and displacement, including nostalgia, not feeling much at all.

My point of photographic production and arrangement comes from a place of deep understanding of empathy and carnal experience. My images are a way to respond to the changes that have been shaping and defining our life and sense of belonging both in our countries of origin and the Netherlands.

I spent the last two years documenting the aftermath that occurs after finding new soil to safely step on. Their physical belongings may not be theirs anymore, but the emotional baggage that comes from the situational and physical process of relocation is free, sponsored by life itself. The images I produced explore the new day-to-day landscape of women. The struggle of inserting yourself into society with its rules and contradictions, that may or may not match what you used to know as safe and acquainted. Those women are in a kind of archaeological restoration program, where they try to build and construct a new life over the ruins of their past losses. Their homes are under construction, their bodies are under construction.

A huge challenge is to define and understand who we are, and it‘s tougher when you have to decide how to assemble yourself and if change has a word in the saying. How to evolve and not lose identity, or if you want to lose it, how do you define what you would be next? These emotional battles are part of the evolving process of continuous change that these women confront to find themselves again in a land that, with hope, could give them a chance to think of a peaceful future for themselves and their families. Not just for the ones beside them but for the members that are still on somber grounds.

Discover more: Shortlist 2023