Where Are We Going



One should be able to leave


But still be like a tree:


As if the roots stay in the ground,


As if the landscape passes by and we stand firm.



These lines by Hilde Domin from the poem ‘Passing Landscapes’ convey the unbearable circumstances of seeking refuge. The term ‘refugee’ for those people who have to or had to flee only exacerbates the loss of the home. For this term is pejorative: It describes a stranger, a waif, a displaced person. The ‘refugee’ is not like oneself. He or she does not belong here. He or she does not belong anywhere.



A negative connoted term like this, pictures from the media which show groups or masses of strangers running up to the camera (and with that to the viewer), the intolerance and the incomprehension for people fleeing from something each of us would flee from fuel and promote prejudices. What we keep forgetting is that ‘refugees’ are human beings. They are fleeing humans who need the help of our society and not the valuation of their being and suchness.


This photographic series of individual portraits is supposed to depict people who had to flee from something as objectively and at the same time as personally as possible. One has to look them in the eyes, from one human being to another human being and not a ‘refugee’. 


In addition, these people tell the viewer their story and their dreams in a short quote or statement.


Where Are We Going shows people who fled or are still fleeing. The portraits are not meant to judge or value the depicted person in any form.

The series was produced in the refugee house on Herkulesstreet in Cologne - it is roughly 1000 meters away from Hilde Domin’s parental home.


Initially, we would like to express our gratitude to the people who were willing to be part of the portrait series and to tell their stories without payment.


Moreover, we give thanks to the ‘Deutsches Rotes Kreuz’ and their interested employees for their helpfulness and their amazing collaboration. Last but not least, our thanks go to the ‘Kölner Flüchtlingsrat e.V.’ and the city of Cologne for the support and the endorsement.


Martin lilkendey