Home Far From Home
This is the story of the student housing Maison Africaine (African House also as known as « Maisaf »), through a juxtaposition of my photographs, collages and appropriated photo albums as well as a variety of edited written sources such as interviews, notes and journalistic news.
"Chez moi loin de chez moi" ("Home away from home") maps a particular place nestled in the Brussels neighborhood of Matongé, echoing Kinshasa’s area.
This photographic series is an encounter with the world of these buildings, spaces and their inhabitants. An exploration of everyday moments and intimate places in the heart of the house. Who are these residents? What is happening between the walls?
I wanted to explore the fears and hopes of the students. Provide a deeper understanding of their passage through this place of transition. It became essential to understand this state of being. To recognize that this condition is natural. It was then that I wondered how the students live: confusion, questioning, nostalgia, adaptation, sense of failure or success.
About the African House
Founded in 1961 and designed to accommodate Congolese students, the African House opened to the whole world and now hosts over 25 nationalities, including Asian students.
In the wake of the Universal Exhibition of 1958 and at the dawn of independence, many African students came to Belgium to undergo training. "Mama Monique," as they called her, began this work on her own. Thereafter, generous donors have joined it to continue this remarkable action. The statutes of the African House were deposited in the Belgian Official Journal in 1961.
The African House is born from the meeting of the students with Ms Monique van der Straten Waillet. She had the idea to find a warm house, to welcome, host and support educationally and socially these young Africans, arrived in a foreign country and sometimes even without scholarship. It was meant to be a meeting place for Africans and university residence of Congolese students that Belgium had granted scholarships in the late 1950s.
Without the Maison Africaine many students ( especially those having a family) wouldn’t have the financial support and social acceptance to be hosted. This series relates also about the concept of home, even in a transitional status, and the key role of a private space and the larger, geographical place where one belongs.