No Man’s Land is a collaborative project that explores experiences of indefinite immigration detention in the UK.
There are currently approximately 2500 people detained under immigration law in the UK. Under this law, a person can be detained indefinitely. People can be held in immigration detention if their applications to be in Britain are being processed or have been refused. Many are asylum-seekers. Some are waiting to hear if they will be accepted as refugees. Others have been refused asylum and will be sent back to their countries of origin. Many people in detention cannot return to their countries, even if they want to. Some are stateless, because their country will not accept them back. Under international law stateless people have similar rights to refugees and should be allowed to stay.
Over a period of two years, a number of men detained in Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre participated in photography workshops, organised by Nana Varveropoulou, producing photographs that aimed to explore their experiences of immigration detention. The workshops were based around various themes, which were developed through group discussions, about the experience and the emotional impact of indefinite immigration detention. Using digital cameras to create photo-stories, participants were responding to themes that were mutually agreed and developed such as “Time”, “Powerlessness”, “Patience”, “Insomnia” and “Hope”.
While running workshops, Nana was also given unprecedented access to photograph the centre. Producing her own photographs of spaces and portraits, Nana created a simultaneous record aiming to explore the ‘outsider’ and ‘insider’s’ perspectives of indefinite immigration detention.
Nana Varveropoulou is a freelance photographer, artist and photography lecturer based in London. Nana’s work predominately explores issues of migration and identity through the investigation of personal spaces and individual experiences, often through the process of collaboration. Her projects include No Man’s Land – a collaborative project that explores experiences of indefinite immigration detention in Colnbrook Immigration Detention Centre; At Home – a project that was inspired by the stories of several Cypriot refugees who returned to visit their birth homes and villages after thirty years of exile; and 228 – a series of images that explores the relationship between architecture, domestic space and collective memory.
Nana is currently Senior Lecturer in Photography at the Kingston School of Art. Nana’s work has been published and exhibited nationally and internationally.
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