Book, exhibition, educational programme
How do people escape daily life?
During a trip through Iraqi-Kurdistan in 2006, photographer Anoek Steketee and writer Eefje Blankevoort found themselves in the amusement park Dream City in Duhok, an unexciting town near the border with Turkey and Syria. Reports of attacks, kidnappings and sectarian violence filled the newspapers on a daily basis. Meanwhile Kurds, Arabs and American soldiers, Christians and Muslims, Shiites and Sunnis; segments of the Iraqi population that were submerged in a deadly struggle outside the gates, amiably rubbed shoulders in Dream City. Was Dream City an exception?
The amusement park in Iraq has been the starting point of a journey through the constructed world of amusement parks. Between 2006 and 2010, photographer Anoek Steketee and writer Eefje Blankevoort visited amusement parks in Iraq, Rwanda, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Colombia, Indonesia, China, Turkmenistan and the USA.
Although the cultural, sociological and political context of each place differs, the parks’ uniform appearance forms the universally recognizable backdrop. With their twinkling lights, fairy-tale setting and perfectly manicured gardens, the parks all derive their value from the universal and timeless human need to escape from daily reality in a communal, constructed space. But behind the innocent, light-hearted facade lurks another, more serious reality.
During their travels, it became increasingly apparent to the authors that an amusement park is more than simply a place to have fun. Its origin, location, theme and the kind of visitors it attracts say a great deal about the socio-political relations of the country in which it is situated. Dream City, Iraq, for example, has been built on the grounds of a former military base for Saddam Hussein’s troops. The park became the ultimate symbol of freedom from and victory over Saddam Hussein.
Dream City (hardcover 24 x 32 cm 168 pages / color) was published by Kehrer Verlag (Germany) and is available in a Dutch and English edition. The book consist of photographs and backgroundstories about the different parks and was designed by -SYB-. The Dutch edition is distributed by Prospektor / FOTODOK and is available at larger bookstores and can be ordered online through our webshop.
From 25 June until 28 August 2012, Dream City was on display at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. On Saturday 25 June the exhibition was opened with a wonderful speech by journalist Tracy Metz.
From the 30th of April until the 16th of June the Dream City exhibition is on display in The State Russian Museum and Exhibition Centre Rosphoto in St. Petersburg.
Exhibition De Vrijstaat
From the 2nd of September until 21st of October the special (childrens) version of the Dream City exhibition was on display in De Vrijstaat in Utrecht, an art location for children.
Exhibition Cortona On The Move
From the 18th of July until the 30th of September Dream City was exhibited on Cortona On The Move International Photography Festival in Cortona, Italy.
A Selection of Dream City was shown at Genthof 2012 Summerfestival in Bruges, Belgium.
Presentation MIA Fair
A presentation of Dream City was part of a special event around Dutch photobooks at Milan Image Art Fair (MIA), organized by FotografenFederatie of The Nederlands.
Film Middle East Now
March 2011 Dream City was shown during the Film Middle East Now filmfestival in Florence. Around twenty images were on display in galery Tethys, situated in a beautiful 16th century building. During the festival Dream City - Iraq, the short documentary by friend and collegue Tomas Kaan was also shown. On Sunday morning Anoek, Eefje and Tomas gave an artist talk about Dream City.
Dream City was part of the exhibition Magic Affairs in the Museum for modern art in Arnhem.
As part of Dream City FOTODOK in cooperation with Kunstbalie developed a educational program for kids in the age of 8/9. Prospektor made the accompanying dvd with three short films about Anoek's work method and a photo assignment.
FOTODOK also developed an educational program for children in the age of 10/11. Prospektor' Toos Kruithof developed an educational program for highschools.
The educational program consists of the book Dream City, students booklets and a teachers guide. Schools can also choose an extended version, consisting of a posterset with which they can create their own exhibition.
Shortlisted for the Bob den Uylprijs, award for the best travel book of 2012.