“We are sitting in front of each other, as two people talking, and you may wonder, why would I make up my suffering? Why would I put in the effort, I am tired as it is already… But we are sitting in front of each other in a building, in a procedure, in all this bureaucracy that is based on the thousands and thousands and thousands of people who have asked for asylum from the ‘80s until this very moment. […] (A lawyer to an asylum applicant, 2012)”
This anthropological dissertation by Maja Hertoghs investigates how state power mobilizes different bodies, those of immigration officials and asylum lawyers, in order to transform other bodies, those of asylum applicants, into official documents that get to ground ‘objective’ decisions over suffering, ‘deservingness’ and in- or exclusion.
Maja asked me to design the publication of her wonderful and extensive work, both inside pages and cover.
The main image that we created – the hand reaching out within a frame of an inside and an outside undefined space, met yet not hold by other bodies – was then also used for the campaign to promote a theatre adaptation of Intensities of the State by Cat Smits called Grenzen (Borders).
→ more info (video)
Intensities of the State
An ethnography of intimacy and suspicion in Dutch asylum procedures
2019, published by Erasmus University Rotterdam
17 x 24 cm
Directed and performed by Cat Smits, 2020
Masks Cat Smits, screenplay Christine Otten, dramatization Maja Hertoghs, photo De Schaapjesfabriek → full credits
Flyer and poster design Kathrin Hero