Merlin Daleman
My Brexit 52/48

Sept. 19, 2020 – Feb. 14, 2021 This exhibition has ended
From Saturday 19 September, Kunsthal Rotterdam will be presenting the exhibition ‘My Brexit 52/48’ by the British-Dutch photo journalist Merlin Daleman. The photographs tell the poignant story of a divided Great-Britain. In 2016, a small majority of British people voted to leave the European Union. Fascinated by the referendum results, Daleman returned to the region where he grew up. In the Black Country, the former mining district west of Birmingham, it seemed as if time had been standing still. In the cities Daleman travelled to, he found that everything was still much the same as during his childhood, although now in a dilapidated state. This observation made him curious and prompted him to travel the country to photograph daily life in places where people predominantly voted either for or against Brexit.

Most of the people Daleman has captured were never able to profit from the prosperity brought on by a united Europe. While the images tell a story of discontent and poverty, they also show solidarity. He zooms in on families and friends going on an outing together, visiting a fun fair, and gambling in the amusement arcades of the seaside town of Skegness. In gripping images, Daleman shows groups of like-minded people gathering in the streets. A few people at a bus stop in Grimsby who are talking and drinking, and who are waiting – although not for a bus. Young people at a fish-and-chip shop in Hull who are pessimistic about the future, but happy that they are no longer part of the EU anymore. 

Uncertain future

Hidden beneath these often everyday scenes lie high unemployment figures, a growing number of homeless people, health issues and a great deal of division. A rain-drenched high street in Stratford-upon-Avon. The fences and gates that people seem to be defending their territory with in Belfast. As a documentary photographer, Daleman knows how to capture significant details. To Daleman, the children and young people in the photographs are symbolic for the uncertain future of the country. They are growing up while oblivious of the fact that their lives will inevitably be shaped by political and economic powers still beyond their comprehension and influence.

Merlin Daleman

Merlin Daleman (1977) has a Dutch mother and a British father. He grew up in the Black Country, the former mining district west of Birmingham. Daleman left England to study at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, the Netherlands. Having specialised in documentary photography, he now regularly travels between his place of residence in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant and his native country. This has resulted in a rich archive of images and stories. Apart from doing his own projects, Daleman also works for the newspapers NRC Handelsblad and Trouw. In 2008 and 2010 he won a Silver Camera Award in the Documentary Photography category.


Anaby Road, Kingston upon Hull, England, 2017
3. Merlin Daleman_Shankill Road District_Belfast_LR.jpg
Shankill Road District, Belfast, North Ireland, 2018
Friday open until 22:00
On 19 April - during Friday Night LIVE - the Kunsthal will be open in the evening.
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