For the fourth time, Stichting Dialoog and FOTODOK are awarding a joint stipend to a young photographer. The winner of the Stipendium Dialoog will receive 3000 euros for the development of a new work and will be overseen in this process by FOTODOK. The past winners of the stipend are Cleo Wächter (2016), Sanne van den Elzen (2017) and Marica Kolcheva (2018). This year, the jury was unanimous in its vote for Angeniet Berkers.
According to the philosopher Martin Buber, a dialogue is a meaningful conversation with another person. The human being is only truly human when it engages in a relationship with the other. Dialogue is a kind of ‘turning in towards each other’, and in that forms an important condition for meaningful human life and succesful coexistence. Dialogue, according to Buber, is an ideal, but also an effort. As much as we like to retreat into the feeling of being in the right: without another person, you cannot get to know yourself.
This is the philosophy with which we established our Stipendium Dialoog in 2016 and that, four years later, is as relevant as ever. This year, the stipend is explicitly related to the upcoming exhibition at FOTODOK about the collective memory and the changing role of photography: “Joint Memory: Photographic Fragments” opens November 15th 2019. In July, a jury composed of Friso Wiersum (Stichting Dialoog), Femke Rotteveel (FOTODOK) and Lisanne van Happen (FOTODOK) selected a winner from the 21 submissions. The fourth jury member, Reinout van den Bergh (Breda Photo), was unfortunately not able to participate in the judging process due to personal circumstances. The jury was looking for a project that questions our collective memory, that is urgent within our current context and that could use the exposure and support.
The jury was unanimous in its decision to award the Stipendium to Angeniet Berkers. Berkers has been working as a sociotherapist for over 10 years in (youth) mental health care. In 2017, she graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague with a degree in photography. With her project proposal “Lebensborn” she both surprised and intrigued the jury.
When this programme turned out not to produce enough Aryan souls, thousands of children with blonde hair and blue eyes were kidnapped from Eastern Europe and brought to boarding houses in order to be ‘Germanised’. After the war, the children from the Norwegian orphanages were by-and-large confined to psychiatric wards or sent away to schools for the mentally disabled. They were often stigmatised, abused, sexually molested and forcefully adopted. As a result, a significant number of them committed suicide. Only in 2018 did the Norwegian government officially offer its apologies for its behaviour toward the mothers and their children after the war. Angeniet Berkers wants to portray as many survivors of the Lebensborn programme as possible and interview them. The surviving Lebensborn children are between 75 and 85 years old and are now still able to tell their own stories. Additionally, she is visiting as many former boarding houses as possible and collecting archival material, as well as relevant documents and objects.
Her project proposal pays attention to this important but obscure chapter of history, almost 75 years after the liberation. The project stood out because of its special subject matter, the sharp analysis and integrity. Her background as a sociotherapist, combined with her photographic knowledge and experience at Centrum ‘45 – an institution that focuses on people with complex PTSD – made the jury confident in this project. The jury was impressed by the orientation of the creator toward the topic and the diligence with which the topic and the affecter parties will be portrayed.
We look forward to seeing what her research will bring forth. If you would like to follow the progress of the project, check out the Instagram page of Lebensborn.