I Went On A Holiday To The Country You Fled From
Dates2021 - 2022
- Locations Mexico, Salitral de Carrera
This photo series examines the extent to which identities limit our freedoms, our ability to live an individual life and the development of our self-expression. To address this, Dutch photographer Iris Haverkamp Begemann joined forces with Mexican writer and trans woman Alejandra Ortiz. Together they were able to use the freedom that is linked with Iris’s her identity as a cis-gender woman to create a series which draws attention to the dangerous conditions transgender people face in Mexico. In other words; Iris went on holiday to the country which Alejandra fled from in order to create a portrait of modern global identity and the paradoxes of freedom.
Mexico is often thought of as vacation paradise, but it’s also acknowledged as one of the world’s deadliest countries for transgender people. Alejandra fled to The Netherlands in search of safety seven years ago, but her residence permit has been recurrently denied by the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), which deems Mexico as safe. Alejandra has found a safe haven with her chosen family in the Netherlands, building a community among other trans refugees from Latin America. But as long as she is left waiting for her residence permit, she feels she cannot truly be herself or live freely.
"You can be my ears and my eyes, basically you'll be touching the same earth, breathing the same air that I breathed when I was little."
Led by these words and hand-printed maps drawn from Alejandra’s memory, Iris traveled to Mexico to visit meaningful locations from her childhood. The map guided Iris to places where Alejandra felt both loved and cared for, but also extremely unsafe, marginalized and rejected by her own family. As a documentary photographer, this project is an investigation as to how Iris, with her identity, could approach such a sensitive and deeply personal subject matter in a respectful way. Shown alongside Alejandra’s personal messages and childhood stories, the photo series presents a visual diary capturing Alejandra’s memories of a birthplace she had to leave behind, and to which she cannot return.
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