‘The photo book is the ideal form for photographic stories about our time’

Henk Wildschut, foto uit de publicatie Ville de Calais Henk Wildschut, foto uit de publicatie Ville de Calais

‘On 2 April 2017 I was able to proudly present my book Ville de Calais to the public,’ Henk Wildschut says. Since 2005 he photographed, in the dunes near The Channel, the dwellings of refugees and immigrants staying in this ‘Jungle of Calais’ in the hopes of being able to cross over to England.

‘The photo book is the ideal, most compact form to make photographic stories visible and give them a public function’

Wildschut: ‘More than an exhibition. An exhibition is temporary and soon acquires the character of an exhibition maker, or it must relate to a museum context. For photographers wishing to tell important stories about our own time, the book remains the strongest, most personal form. It is tangible and focused. The public may hold it in their own hands and can pore over it as often and as long as they want. That is why it is so important that the fund offers the possibility to contribute to that and to realise such books. For Ville de Calais, that was crucial. Making photo books is expensive; the margins on them are narrow. I self-published the book and apart from the from the Fund, I also needed to offer the book to interested crowd-funders who already wanted to support me in the build-up to the publication. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to close the financing. I would have put myself into serious debt, or the book would have become incredibly expensive; it would simply be impossible.’

In 2017 Ville de Calais won the Prix du Livre d’Auteur at the photo festival in Arles; the Volkskrant newspaper called it an ‘epic story about a disgrace in Europe’. The publication was selected as one of the 33 Best Dutch Book Designs of 2017.