Soft Eyes

It was twenty-seven years ago when Joost van den Broek got on a bus and went on his way to the war in former Yugoslavia. It was there, at a place where compassion no longer existed, that the young photographer stared into the displaced eyes of refugees for the first time in his life.

‘She laid quiet on a mattress, covered by a blanket. She looked like my grandmother. I stared at her and knew that there was nothing left that I could do. I could travel the world, but I would not be able to safe her. It was the first time that I looked into the eyes of someone who was about to die.’

He clicks on his camera in a daze. Back in Holland the photo disappears into a box for twenty-five years. Tucked away, just like his pain. The encounter with the old women causes him a trauma, but it also makes him committed to tell and show the stories of refugees in gripping and magnificent photos for years to come.

The Dutch Council for Refugees (VluchtelingenWerk Nederland) invited Joost van den Broek to go through his archive. The photographer looked at hundreds of pictures, nearly twenty-five years of photos about the life of refugees and asylum seekers in The Netherlands. Together with the Council, he chose 16 images for his exhibition ‘Soft eyes’.

Visitor information ‘Soft Eyes’

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