Photographer Michel Huneault documented border interceptions of asylum seekers moving from the United States to Canada and their confusing quest for a safe place.
- Stop! If you walk further, you’ll be arrested.
- I know; I am really sorry. You have to help us; we are entering.
In early 2017, the number of asylum seekers arriving at Roxham Road sharply increased. This quiet road between the United States and Canada became the location with the largest number of irregular border crossings in the country.
Roxham takes us to the moments when Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers intercept these individuals. Documenting 180 border-crossing attempts between February and August 2017, Michel Huneault captured their stories in images and sound, which are now also presented in virtual reality.
In the photographs, the asylum seekers are shown in silhouette. Composite images of various fabrics shield their identity, preserving their anonymity. These textures come from another photo series Huneault made during the 2015 European migrant crisis.
At Roxham Road—just like in the immersive experience—the border is invisible, the confusion is palpable and emotions run high. Migration, an exceedingly personal decision, has been thrust to the forefront of public and political debates. Roxham Road is quickly becoming symbolic: it embodies the tensions between the international responsibility to welcome others and the duty to protect a national territory.
The 10-metre-wide Roxham Road becomes a microcosm of the world’s crises, offering a personal glimpse into the confusing quest for a safe place.
The photo works are accompanied by auditive tracks. Headphones are placed around the exhibition. The virtual reality work Roxham is part of the Particles of Existence exhibition and can be experimented when purchasing tickets.