Let's Explore Empowerment with Aileen van Leeuwen
Hold a picture to never let go
at least, not yet
Throughout my life, I have been documenting everything there is to document. I have more than 30 travel diaries, an immense online photo catalogue, numerous photo albums with significant milestones and a bulgy drawer with meaningful postcards. And I was the child who made passports for her dolls (I guess it was my way to make them exist and seem important).
But at some point I started wondering: what if you have to surrender to the passing of the present moment, and don’t have the ‘standard’ means to take your memory with you to the future?
Aileen van Leeuwen is a conflict analyst, photographer and storyteller. She has been conducting the photography project ‘Portraits for People’ with families in different countries who have little access to cameras and printers. Additionally, she works as a researcher on polarisation, radicalisation and extremism. From 2018 to 2020, she worked for the Dialogue Advisory Group, an organisation that facilitates political dialogue between actors in conflict to reduce violence. Prior to that she interned at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch Council for Refugees. She holds both an MA in Conflict Studies and Human Rights and a BSc in Interdisciplinary Social Science from Utrecht University. As part of her studies, she completed an exchange programme at the University of Hong Kong and conducted field research in Medellín, Colombia. Both her MA and BSc theses were published in renowned student journals.
The historic value of things fixed in the form of a picture is beyond price. Read more about this concept in Batchen, G. (2004). Forget me not: Photography & remembrance. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.