In Voyage à Dakar, Dutch photographer Judith Quax and her Dutch-Senegalese son, Noah, travel over land in the opposite direction of the migratory flow from Amsterdam to Dakar in Senegal: the land of Noah’s father and his Senegalese family.
Judith and Noah stay with Senegalese friends and family along the way, migrants who have made the crossing to Europe and had to leave their family and loved ones behind. Each leaves something of themselves in the car: baggage for their families in Senegal, and stories full of desire and hope of reunions.
“I dreamed about Senegal, Mama, so I can show you the way,” says Noah an hour after their departure from Amsterdam. Guiding the way is his responsibility, something to hold on to during the journey. They surrender to being on the road, to the endless emptiness of the desert landscape that passes by.
For Noah, his different identities merge seamlessly. While he can travel the world freely with his mother, his father and other Senegalese family members are tied to one place through a lack of passports or residency documents. For Noah there are no hard borders; concepts like cities, countries, and continents flow into one another.
Through the medium of photography, video, and installations, the work of Judith Quax explores the dynamic between ‘here’ and ‘there’. In her work, she visualizes how people move through their nomadic lives and relate to their changing surroundings. The contrast between memories of the past and one’s present realities plays a fundamental role in this.
Since 2007, she has been researching and photographing migration from Senegal to Europe. Her personal life has been strongly influenced by migration: the father of her son is Senegalese. He lives in New York and the majority of her family-in-law live in Dakar. She is increasingly infusing her work with her own life, so too in Voyage à Dakar.
Quax holds a master’s degree in Communications, with a specialization in Culture & Identity. Her work has been exhibited internationally at the Dakar Biennale, Galerie Atiss, and Raw Material in Senegal, Lagos Photo in Nigeria, Cape Town Biennale in South Africa, and EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her work has been published in Nka Journal and African Arts. In 2014, she published Presence in Absence.
In Voyage à Dakar Judith Quax closely collaborates with video editor Peter Claassen.