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Joel van Houdt May 20, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Spain.

An unemployed Moroccan, Canary Islands, Spain 2009

Joel van Houdt (b. 1981, The Netherlands) is an independent photojournalist based in Kabul, Afghanistan since 2010. He studied photography and design in Bradford, UK and graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 2003. Before moving to Afghanistan he worked on stories in a resurgent Russia waking up to an oil boom and from 2007 to 2010 on his project Entering Europe, documenting the life of an educated Moroccan before, during and after he illegally sneaks into Spain. Alongside his decade-long work for Dutch newspapers and magazines Joel’s work has appeared in various publications including The Sunday Age, Der Spiegel, Stern, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Magazine.

About the Photograph:

“I took this picture when I flew back to the islands after the police finally released my memory cards with the pictures from Mohamed’s crossing. We arrived on a small island, La Graziosa, and were all arrested by the only police officer and the villagers. In court I was asked to name the captain of the boat, I refused because that’s not my job as a journalist and against my ethics. A captain can get up to eight years in prison. After this they decided to keep all my photographs as evidence. I needed a very good  lawyer and six months to get them back. It was early evening, six months after Mohamed arrived illegally in Spain. He’s sleeping in a house of a friend while trying to get asylum, which never happened. This is around the time he started to realize that living in Europe wasn’t going to be as easy as he imagined. He moved to Europe’s mainland where he was able to live from food donations from a church among others but couldn’t find work. Mohamed arrived in September 2008 a week before the economic crisis. He’s been jobless and illegal ever since.”


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