Marvin
Systermans



Artistic and Documentary
Photography focused
on urban and rural spaces.

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Willow Youth
The series was created in April 2017 as part of an excursion of Peter Bialobrzeski's Master Photography class at HfK Bremen. The different series that where created during the trip have been published in the Between the Lines photobook.
Belfast is the economic engine of Northern Ireland. Europe-wide demands for national borders and the construction of walls are endangering the peace in the city as much as Brexit. This and the many decades of religious and national conflict have deeply divided Belfast's population. Running through the west of the city, which has been particularly affected by the tensions, are two roads, Shankill Road and Falls Road, between which the presence of the old conflict is particularly evident. Shankill Road runs through a pro-British and Protestant neighborhood, while Falls Road, in some places less than a kilometer away, runs through a Republican-Irish and Catholic neighborhood.
Walls and fences several meters high, surveillance cameras and barbed wire fences separate the two neighborhoods that lie so close together. At night, the direct passages are closed, so that it is no longer possible to cross directly from one side to the other. On both sides of the border there are Belfastians today who want nothing to do with the old conflict, but for too many the memories are still too fresh and the conflict remains unresolved. Children growing up in Belfast today usually know no other life than the one between the fences and walls. Willow Youth is a photographic statement of observations I made during my stay in the city on that situation.
While working on the series, I met with a group of women who are relatives of people who died in the conflict and listened to their stories. To me, the stories seemed as if they had been penned in Hollywood, but the women's serious and bitter expressions left no doubt that they had actually lived through these experiences and probably many more. Based on my meeting with the women's group, I wrote the anecdote at the end of the photo series.