Refugee Youth in Public Space


Festive conclusion ‘Thuis in de Molenwijk’ exposition


A festive conclusion on the 10th of October marked the closing of the exposition Thuis in De Molenwijk (Feeling at home in De Molenwijk), a photo and story project around homemaking from the perspectives of newcomers with a refugee background. The event caught the interest of many enthusiastic people who wanted to have a final peak at the photos and personal stories, and to celebrate a successful community art project. Thanks to all the visitors, participants and organisors for making the closing party a success!

The aim of the project was to understand how newcomers in the neighbourhood with a refugee background make sense of public places. De Molenwijk is a neighbourhood where people from different parts of the world co-exist, including people with a refugee background. Social contact between residents is an important component of living together and developing a sense of home. Public places are essential in creating opportunities to meet neighbours and other people, but to meet and see each other is not the same as to interact meaningfully. The project asked where meaningful social encounter and interaction is experienced, and how public and cultural places can help in developing a sense of home. A free entry photography workshop was organised to share experiences in an accessible way using photos and stories.

The exposition illustrates that participants make active use of public spaces to meet people and to exercise. They felt safe in public places in Amsterdam, although negative memories were triggered in public when few people are around or when it is dark. Participants mentioned to be very happy in the Netherlands, most notably because of perceived freedom and safety to pursue personal aspirations. The balcony was also found as a place in-between the public and private domain to negotiate feelings of home. In particular for newcomers, the balcony functioned as a place of quietness and contemplation as well as a place from which the new surroundings and its cultural codes could be observed and made sense of. All experiences contributed to feeling at home in a new environment.

Thuis in de Molenwijk is a collaboration between Framer Framed, Mieke Kox and Ilse van Liempt (Utrecht University) and Karine Versluis (Picture Bridge Foundation). For more information, including a recap of participants and organisers, click here (Dutch only).