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Photography: Piet den Blanken

Texts: Joost ten Horn en Rob Ruggenberg

Design: Jan de Rooij

Selection: Hans Zoete


Book of the month – September 2021

For the month of September we chose the book 'Grensgevallen’ (Borderline cases) by Piet den Blanken because the exhibition Migration at Pennings Foundation is on show from September 4 to October 9, 2021. In this exhibition, journalistic photos by Den Blanken are combined with paintings by Stijn Peeters, who uses journalistic photos as inspiration for his work. The photos show the often strenuous circumstances of refugees who try to cross the border into Europe somewhere, in the hope of a better life.

The photo book ‘Grensgevallen’ was published on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name in 2003 in the Grote Kerk (the big church) Breda. The theme in the book is broader, with attention not only to arrests and manhunts at the European borders, but also to social unrest and remarkable working conditions in the Netherlands and civil wars and prostitution in Latin America.

The back of the cover reads: “Piet den Blanken photographs borders between countries, borders between poverty and prosperity – and the people who get trapped there, in no man's land.” Limits in a literal and metaphorical sense.

The book shows photographs of ordinary people, usually at the bottom of the social ladder, in their daily lives. An extensive biography has been added at the back in which his development as a documentary photographer and vision are described.

The book is in landscape format. Most photos, all in black and white, are in landscape format, so the photos are neatly distributed across the pages, usually one photo per page. Sometimes a photo continues across the next page. All photos are captioned with the name of the country concerned and the year. A separate appendix has been added with a description of the situations that the photos show. The photos from the Europe chapter can now be seen in the Migration exhibition. They are supplemented with color photographs which Den Blanken made afterwards. Den Blanken has been documenting the refugee problem for 25 years now. And still no humanitarian solution has been found in Europe at the political level.

The photo book 'Grensgevallen' (with texts in Dutch, Spanish and English) is in the library of the Pennings Foundation and is also for sale (€ 20.00).

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