Since 2006, I research and photograph migration from West Africa to Europe. The people I met put me in touch with other people, sometimes on the other side of the Atlantic, and vice versa. The lives of the migrants I have met are layered over the years and often intertwined: one story unfolds in another.
For many migrants and their families, Presence of Absence a reality: families are separated for many years and due to undocumented status, they are often unable to return. They hold on to memories, tangible in the form of photos, performed with them or in the privacy and intimacy of their (bed) rooms. Some migrants can travel and see their families and loved ones, but they still live most of the time apart. Photos and family albums are intimate possessions of the migrant and in the course of time a growing source of desire for disadvantaged families.
I published my book Presence of Absence, with a text essay by curator Salah M. Hassan in May 2014:
"What distinguishes Quax’s photo-based series (…) is the intimacy she brings to her representation of the condition of this “temporary permanency.” Moreover, her focus on photographing the unseen becomes a mode of work in which the visible minimalism of her images speaks volumes about the horror of the invisible. It is the kind of work where the subject’s invisibility becomes a metaphor for its presence."