My neighborhood Nørrebro has been suffering from some serious shit karma in the last couple of years. Last drops of lemon are the competing drug gangs who are a bit too trigger happy, having shootouts in the streets around where I live. I’m not exactly thrilled about it. This post is not about how to deal with drugs violence, though. Nørrebro also happens to be the part of Copenhagen which has the highest number of first and second generation immigrants and therefore it is the xenophobic danish media’s favorite scapegoat for any kind of trouble and boy, do media LOVE negative reports from Nørrebro, making out that things are much more dramatic than they really are. There are only a few troublemakers, but media loves to stigmatize an entire neighborhood. I’m sick of it. Aside from the shootings, of course, I’d say that on a daily basis, it’s a pretty calm and down to earth part of the city. I love to live here!
Sadly, all these negative reports are taking it’s toll on people living here and a lot of families with small kids give up and move away. I’d like to see some change in Nørrebro’s image. I’d like to see some more positive, empowering images around here, so that we all can have good feelings about our neighborhood. I draw inspiration from the photographer activist JR. I’m absolutely in awe of the different concepts JR has developed and projects he has done in different places around the world.
“A necessary demonstration, through images, that art and laughter can challenge stereotypes.”
JR did the 28mm series, up-close portraits of people with a 28mm lens. So far it consists of Portraits of a Generation, portraits of people from Montfermeil, the cité where the riots started in Paris in 2004. The real faces of people, not the biased picture which media loves to create. Also, the project Face2Face showing funny faces of real people on both sides of the conflict in Israel/Palestine. So simple, yet it sparked a lot of discussions in the streets. Another empowering project was taking portraits of Women in Kenya, South-Sudan, Sierra-Leone, Liberia and in the favela in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and posting them in big formats on buildings, trains and trucks, to make these women’s struggle visible. Images are so effective in communicating a message. Maybe this is just the medicine we need here on Nørrebro? Making the real great people living here visible.