The outdoor exhibition A new beginning by photographer Cigdem Yuksel on Spui, Hofweg and Buitenhof can now be seen until 6 May 2021. The exhibition is part of the transmedia project Shadow Game, about child refugees traveling alone in Europe. This documentary is one of the films that can only be seen online during the Movies that Matter Festival and via Filmhuis.

Mo Ghandour came to the Netherlands alone at the age of fifteen. “People are constantly asking about my flight story. While that is only a very small part of my life. I’m much more than a refugee. I have dreams, ambitions. We are someone, we want to show that. “For her project A New Beginning, photographer Cigdem Yuksel works together with Mo, Abdulaal, Meron, Amin, Shiro, Hammoudi and John: young people who search for their identity after their flight. They express themselves with tattoos, poems, rap or Instagram posts. They look cool and tough, but are also fragile. Together with Yuksel they went in search of a way to tell their stories. Who are you and who do you want to become? The result is an outdoor exhibition with large, colorful portraits and multimedia stories that can be viewed online.

Bad memories and a new future
Yuksel asked the young people what they feel when they think about their journey, fears, nightmares, the loss of their parents. What image, shape and color do they envision? How would they portray that? Yuksel also looks at their future with the young people. How do they see themselves, now and later? Where do they get strength and pleasure from?

Photographer Cigdem Yuksel (1989)
Cigdem Yuksel (1989) is a photographer. She won the Canon Silver Camera Prize in 2016 for her photo series of Syrian children who worked in the textile and shoe industry in Turkey. In 2020 Yuksel published together with Ewoud Butter and S.P.E.A.K. her research “Moslima”. An exploratory study of the representation of Muslim women in the ANP image bank. She’s currently working on a podcast about the representation of Muslim women in the media, together with Maartje Duin. And she photographs the first generation of Turkish women, which she wants to give a place in our collective visual memory.
Cigdem Yuksel: “I come from a migrant family myself. My grandfather came to the Netherlands in the 1970s as one of the first Turkish guest workers. Now I’m part of the third generation of Turkish Dutch and I know better than anyone what it is like to grow up in a family where the feeling of ‘a home’ is missed. Where people are still looking for the feeling of belonging.”

The youth
Abdulaal (22) wants to become an actor. He likes attention, being in the spotlight. When he thinks about the future, about acting and becoming famous, he thinks about the colors gold and red. He came to the Netherlands alone from Sudan at the age of seventeen. On the way he memorized the national anthems of twelve countries. “I did that to make contact. People like it when you know something about their country.”

Mo (22) likes the color pink. In Syria he was not allowed to wear that color, it was for girls. When he came to the Netherlands as an adolescent without parents, he felt liberated. “In Syria I couldn’t be who I wanted, I had to be what others wanted me to be.” Mo studies at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute.

Meron (22) is a fan of Beyoncé. “When I make up, dress nicely and do my hair, I feel more confident because I think I’m cool and beautiful. Just like Queen B. “When she thinks about her homeland Eritrea, she sees the color yellow and misses her mother.

Amin (20) likes to listen to Afghan rap. The beats and lyrics give him courage. Amin’s asylum application has been rejected several times. He feels pressured by the Repatriation and Departure Service, is under a lot of stress and is unable to sleep for fear of deportation. If he had to summarize his feelings in one color? ‘Black. Pitch-black. I feel like I’m waiting for my death. “Only faith helps him. And Carrie Underwood. Because when he’s really down, he always plays her number Champion.

Hammoudi (17) becomes a doctor. That is his dream, his goal. Two years after he arrived in the Netherlands, he is the best in his class. Initially shy, Hammoudi is now growing more and more. “I feel good in the Netherlands. I just miss my mother and sisters. “He hasn’t seen them for three years now. Mohammed – nickname Hammoudi – is one of the main characters from the movie Shadow Game. A separate film has also been made about him: Hammoudi’s dream.

Shiro (18) can go back to school for the first time in seven years. He is fully focused on his future, is learning the language and is working hard to become a personal trainer. He traveled to Europe with his brother Jano. They walked more than 3,500 kilometers, including the Black Mountains of Montenegro. “It gave me legs like logs.” He does not waste many words about his journey: “The road was very difficult, now it is finished.” Shiro is one of the main characters in the film Shadow Game. A separate film has also been made about him and his brother Jano: Jano & Shiro, a Brothers’ Journey.

Transmedia project Shadow Game
A new beginning is part of the transmedia project Shadow Game by Eefje Blankevoort and Els van Driel, made in close collaboration with journalist and translator Zuhoor al Qaisi. The project consists of a full-length documentary (90 min), a series of short follow-up documentaries (30 min), an impact campaign, adventure game and a multimedia series / exhibition in collaboration with Cigdem Yuksel.

Documentary Shadow Game at Movies that Matter Festival
This impressive documentary Sahdow Games is available online between Sunday April 18 12:00 pm and Wednesday April 20 until 8:00 pm at the online festival Movies that Matter. Meet the Makers can be followed live on Saturday 17 April at 20:00 with directors Els van Driel & Eefje Blankevoort and researcher Zuhoor al Qaisi. Tickets are available through the Movies that Matter website.
On the last day of this exhibition, Thursday May 6, the documentairy can be online seen via Filmhuis Den Haag.

Exhibition tour
From April 15 to May 6, 2021, the outdoor exhibition with the work can be seen along the route Spui, Hofweg and Buitenhof in the center of The Hague. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Movies that Matter film festival, The Hague Library and Atrium City Hall. After that, the exhibition will travel through the Netherlands. From the end of May 2021 he can be seen in Amsterdam in collaboration with the Melkweg. A talk show with music is also organized there.

Photography: Cigdem Yuksel
Text and editing: Eefje Blankevoort / Prospektor
Composition: Frederiek Biemans
Design: Studio Parkers
The exhibition was made possible by contributions from the Fund for Special Journalism Projects, Free Press Unlimited, the Support Activities Fund of the Dutch Council for Refugees, Atrium City Hall and Movies that Matter.