Lou Muuse began Retour Afzender as a photojournalism project. Registering as a volunteer worker for Dutch asylum centres, she was able to enter a parallel universe that is normally hidden to the public, even to news media. She ended up not simply taking pictures, but researching the system of Dutch asylum procedures, documenting its single steps through images and text on a website. The conclusion was simple: that these procedures serve the purpose of getting refugees out of the country again. With the escalation of the so-called "refugee crisis" in 2015/16, with mostly Syrian war refugees fleeing to European Union countries, Lou Muuse's research gained an urgency that she herself might not have anticipated. It is a form of research where visuals are neither simply illustrations nor visualizations of textual data, but where photographic images are the medium of critical investigation.
Since asylum and refugee politics are changing every day, keeping an investigative website up-to-date is difficult enough. One could argue that a book publication of the project is even paradoxical for such a mutable subject. But this is even one more reason for the hybrid publication of Lou Muuse's visual research, online and in print. The stable medium of print serves as a long-term archive where the medium of the website will be unstable and impermanent by its technical nature.
Retour Afzender © 2016
The physical publication is available for sale via the webshop of Underbelly
Author: Lou Muuse and Florian Cramer (introduction)
Photography: Lou Muuse
Coordinators: Michelle Kasprzak and Kimmy Spreeuwenberg
Web design: Lou Muuse
Print design: Eyesberg (Amy Suo Wu and Tim Braakman)
Printed and Production:
Book Casing: Wijkatelier op Zuid
0 Introduction: Flyeralarm
1: Fortress Europe: Drukkerij Tripiti
2: Arrival in the Netherlands: Drukwerkdeal
3: Rejected: Flyeralarm
4: Background & Research: Flyeralarm
View Lou's graduation project on this site.