Instagram Take-Over #5: Rob Pinney, "The Jungle" Migrant Camp, Calais

April 4, 2016

Musa, pictured here during Arabic lessons, fled Darfur at the onset of the war in 2002. While his family headed to the refugee camps in neighbouring Chad, where they remain to this day, he began the journey to Europe. He has not seen them since.

For its fifth Instagram take-over by photographers from around the world, Carnegie Council presents work by Rob Pinney, a documentary photographer and researcher.

Pinney's background is in political science. He studied politics at SOAS, University of London and received an MA in war studies at King's College London. Alongside creating what he hopes are both interesting and provocative images, he's also very interested in the "work" that photographs do. Photographs not only show political events, but do political things, and as endless exposure to images continues to increase, Pinney believes we ought to be aware of their profound, yet often unremarked-upon effects.

The main focus of Pinney's work over the last six months has been the unfolding crisis in "The Jungle"—the term used to refer to the migrant encampment outside Calais, France, which has become a temporary dwelling spot for migrants waiting to enter other parts of Europe. As the main point of departure for sea and rail travel to Britain, it has become a hotspot for asylum seekers hoping to cross the English Channel and build a new life in the United Kingdom. Since the 1990s, the camp has been sporadically populated, but repeatedly shut down by French authorities.

With the current refugee crisis that is plaguing Europe, the Calais Jungle has once again come to host thousands of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea, and Iran, reaching a peak of almost 7,000 during the summer of 2015. In February 2016, a French court gave authorities permission to evacuate The Jungle, a move that would evict thousands of migrants including hundreds of unaccompanied minors, leaving them with nothing but a few personal belongings.

The evictions and bulldozing began at the end of February and continued into March. Humanitarian groups like Help Refugees and L'Auberge des Migrants have been working to postpone the evictions, citing their devastating effect on the lives of the refugees. The subsequent evictions have caused violent confrontation and further displacement. It is not difficult to create photographs that evoke misery and suffering in The Jungle. And while such pictures might fit with what we think documentary photography ought to look like, such images usually take recourse to particular visual tropes and do little to deepen public understanding of a complex place at a time when greater understanding is so sorely needed. During this next week, Pinney will be posting photographs that he hopes begin to challenge this, offering a slightly more nuanced view into a deeply human crisis.

To see more of Pinney's work, go to: http://www.robpinney.com/ and https://www.instagram.com/rob.pinney/.

Carnegie Council hosts a new Instagram take-over every month. Check out the previous four photographers and look for the next one in early May: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/ccthrumyeyes/.