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DIASPORA | 2016- 2022 

Migration and identity are recurring themes in my work, covering critical issues such as cultural assimilation, exotification, racism, and sisterhood. For more than ten years I lived in several African countries, working with local communities. This experience also brought me into contact with the issues that particularly affect African women, as well as their resilience: how are they seen from the outside, who are they and who are they allowed to be? On my return, I was particularly concerned with the problems of African immigrants (including my husband) settling in Europe. African diasporas in Europe often face additional struggles with their identities in the new environments. They find themselves caught between two cultures, searching for both equanimity and recognition. In 2016 I decided to explore these issues in a series of photographic portraits entitled 'Diaspora'. I asked people who were struggling with this dual identity to pose for me, and as I wanted to pay tribute, I staged the photographs so that the sitters could be portrayed as strong, dignified and beautiful - just as they are.

The portraits are reminiscent of the Orientalist watercolor portraits of the Spanish painter Josep Tapiro Baro, who lived in Tangiers, Morocco, for many years. His works were not appreciated at that time in Europe because his portraits of Tangier's inhabitants were considered too plain and realistic.  My portraits may appear exotic in their aesthetics, but the purpose is tied to the context in which they were created - specifically the process of 'othering'. My portraits are quiet, emotionally charged stories which were captured and retold rather than subjugating the tropes historically used in Europe when depicting people from different cultures. 

Portrait of Penda | Diaspora | Copyright VanWeeghel | 2017
Portrit of Ninho | Diaspora | Copyright VanWeeghel | 2016
Portrait of Yesni | Diaspora | Copyright VanWeeghel | 2017
Portrait of Muna | Diaspora | Copyright VanWeeghel | 2016
Portrait of Chaila | Diaspora | Copyright VanWeeghel | 2017
Portrait of Adam | Diaspora | copyright VanWeeghel | 2016
Installation View The Hague Historical Museum
Photo Biennale Bogota | Memory & Resilience | Diaspora | 2019
PAN Amsterdam | Main Exhibition | Curated by Piet de Jonge | 2017
PAN Amsterdam | Rademakers Gallery | 2018
Photo Festival Naarden The Netherlands | Installation DIaspora | 2019
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