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Concept and photography:
Geisje van der Linden
Dore van Duivenbode
Rob van Hoesel
Lithography and production:
NPN Printers (NL)
Stella Maris is a long-term project on Eastern European migrant workers in the Netherlands. Geisje van der Linden (NL) and Miriam Donkers (NL) followed the alternating residents of Stella Maris, a former monastery on the edge of the village Welberg.
Welberg, a small village in The Netherlands, has about 500 houses with 1,100 inhabitants. The average age of the residents is high and there is a busy social life. The former monastery Stella Maris was bought and renovated by a specialized employment agency for migrant workers. Welberg now receives 400 East European guest residents, mostly from Poland.
In small apartments the workers are put together based on the companies where they are employed. All apartments are furnished similarly, there is a high ‘Ikea level’. The monastery contains a grocery store, bowling alley, bar, party room and fitness room. The intention is that the guest workers abide as much as possible inside Stella Maris to make sure they don’t cause disruption to the villagers.
The objective of the employment agency is to organize the lives of the migrant workers as humanely as possible; they have normal work weeks and holidays. But the polished decor doesn’t mean that they are totally separated from Dutch society where they spend a significant period of their lives. After all the group of East European guest workers is necessary, but not necessarily welcome.
Geisje van der Linden lives in Antwerp and works from Rotterdam & Antwerp. As a documentary and portrait photographer, she works on long-term photo projects and on assignment.
Miriam Donkers looks for elements in space that realise the person. The living environment has a wonderful narrative character, revealing the habits and repetitions of her subject, human beings.