Melanie Friend began work on Border Country in 2003. Since then, more than 25,000 individuals per year have been held for some period in immigration detention in the UK. Over this time, male detainees have comprised approximately 85% of the immigration detainee population in the UK and the vast majority of interviewees in Border Country are male.
Friend photographed in eight Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) in England: Dover, Colnbrook and Harmondsworth (near Heathrow), Lindholme (near Doncaster), Tinsley House (near Gatwick), Campsfield House (near Oxford), Yarl’s Wood (near Bedford) and Haslar (near Portsmouth). Although Friend was eventually given permission to photograph visits rooms in all eight IRCs, the religious spaces at Dover and some landscapes, she was not given access to detainees’ living quarters.
In his essay for the publication which accompanied the exhibition, Mark Durden stated ‘In Border Country, Melanie Friend gives us the voices of people without any home or belonging, trapped within an inhumane system they cannot fully understand. The act of listening to those caught waiting, uncertain of their future — deportation or asylum — breaks the silence and invisibility surrounding these centres and those who are kept inside.’
Publication Border Country
The publication Border Country includes 19 images, essays by Mark Durden, Alex Hall and Melanie Friend and the complete exhibition soundtrack (75 mins.) on an audio CD. It is co-published by Belfast Exposed Photography and The Winchester Gallery.
Visit www.melaniefriend.com for more info.