Katja Tähjä & Kaisa Viitanen
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Undocumented Lives (Kaisa Viitanen, Katja Tähjä, 2013).
The first documentary book about the everyday life of irregular migrants in Europe.
Photographer Katja Tähjä and journalist Kaisa Viitanen travelled around Europe meeting invisible people. Undocumented children, women and men from Finland to Spain, Greece, Belgium, The Netherlands, UK and Sweden told them what it is like to live under a constant fear of getting caught and being deported.
The photographs and stories of 21 people or families reveal the little-known shadow people of today’s Europe.
Paperless people are living in Europe without residence permits. They are not included in any registers. Officially, they don’t even exist.
The e-book contains a 2 minute video, amazing photos, revealing testimonies, animated maps and even singing. Be sure that your iPad´s sound is on!
What is Undocumented Lives about?
Where will I sleep tonight? Will the boss pay me the wages he promised? Where can I get help if my child is sick? Has our neighbour informed on us? I hope that’s not the police coming up the stairs? These are the kinds of questions constantly preying on the minds of Europe’s undocumented – people who are in a strange country without a residence permit.
One can end up paperless for many different reasons. Someone stays in the country although his visa has expired. Another has paid a trafficker and managed to cross the border without a passport. A third was refused asylum and remained in hiding. The paperless are shadow people, not noticed by citizens and decision-makers. How many paperless people do you know?
The working partners from Helsinki, photographer Katja Tähjä and journalist Kaisa Viitanen got to know migrants and families living in hiding in seven European countries.
It all began by accident but turned into an eighteen-month project, the result of which was this book. It was first published in Finnish and won several awards in Finland. Now the authors are publishing their work in English as an e-book.
Undocumented Lives is Europe’s first documentary photography book to give paperless people a face and their own voice.
Olga from Azerbaijan recounts how she, a newly graduated MA, became a homeless single parent in Amsterdam. A former boy soldier, Arlindo, recalls his long journey from the Angolan jungle to a housing estate in Espoo, Finland.
No two undocumented people are alike, but Rita, who ended up in Sweden, sums up the essence of their lives: “I don’t know who I am any more. I no longer observe the Muslim Ramadan, but I go to church sometimes. I’m not a Serb, Albanian or Swedish. I’m just a person without a homeland.”
Look more: www.undocumentedlives.com