Dirk-Jan Visser (1978) is a news and documentary photographer based in The Netherlands, focusing on social, economic and political issues around the world. In his projects, Dirk-Jan aims to raise awareness for contemporary social issues in which he is particularly sensitive for the consequences of large political decisions on regular individuals. Within his photography he focuses on the small personal stories, giving the individual a face and voice as a metaphor for larger and complex issues. Engaging with society from grassroots perspectives, he uses his camera to communicate and aspires to create understanding on contemporary issues in relation to the political and economic transformations.
In 2005 he published the book Brave New Kosovo, A world of transformation and imagination, a photojournalistic merge of stories about Kosovo six years after the war. It draws a human, real and sometimes grim picture of the life in this former UN-protectorate, portraying individuals from the streets as well as decision makers at the top. His work on the Zimbabwean exodus won a number of awards, including Dutch Photojournalist of the Year 2007, a special recognition in the POYI World Understanding Award 2009, and was used by the Human Rights Watch lobby to help bring about a change of asylum policy in South Africa towards Zimbabweans. Dirk-Jan considers this to be the greatest achievement of his career.
In May 2012 Dirk-Jan’s project OFFSIDE, Football in exile, was launched at the Noorderlicht Gallery in Groningen (The Netherlands) with a solo exhibition and book presentation. OFFSIDE shows the geopolitical conflict in the Nagorno Karabakh region. Even as the war raged between 1991-1994, it received little attention from the West. Today, the unresolved yet frozen conflict remains a reality for up to hundreds of thousands Azerbaijani and Armenian refugees. In OFFSIDE, Dirk-Jan, in cooperation with writer Arthur Huizinga, tells their story from the perspective of two football teams: FK Qarabağ Ağdam and FK Karabakh Stepanakert.
Another ongoing project is Status: Undocumented which he started in 2009 for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. It is a research into the personal motives of illegal migrants in Europe, the consequences of living in illegality and perceptions on the country of origin. Dirk-Jan is photographing the everyday life of several illegal migrants living in different European capitals. By showing their everyday struggle Dirk-Jan is challenging the empathy of the public towards a group of people who have never been invited. In the country of origin he is photographing the beloved ones who are left behind. On the one hand Dirk-Jan questions the migrant’s vision of Europe as the ‘Paradise’ and on the other hand he questions the public’s opinion by showing the problematic situation in the migrant’s country of origin. The first two stories of this project have been exhibited in multi media form at the Humanity House, The Hague.
Since 2011 Dirk-Jan is one of the initiators and owners of Atelier aan de Middendijk, a small farmhouse in Usquert / Groningen, upper north in The Netherlands. Now an official artist in residence, they invite different artists to the atelier and giving them the opportunity to create new work in relation to the fascinating surroundings. Atelier aan de Middendijk has the ambition to be a place where local handicrafts, tradition, technology and arts come together. In 2013 Rotterdam based designer Guido Marsille gave a new interpretation to the Groninger Stijlkamer, a specific local interior design from the past, which was the base for the bathroom and a exhibition in the local museum. In 2014 DUS architects from Amsterdam will print the kitchen 3D, based on the starch potatoes from our neighbour farmers.