The former Palace of Justice in Dakar was built in the 50s and used till 1998. Because of faults in the construction, already from 1968 on huge cracks formed on the walls and measures had to be taken to give the building extra support. Used as a court and archive, the building consisted of an office part and a number of court rooms. When the building had to be evacuated in 1998, the archives stayed there to waste away. Little by little, office supplies, tapestry, pipes, electricity lines and anything usable have been stolen. The files are everywhere and goats roam around, eating papers and carton.
A friend who works at an organisation for human rights told me that there's a substantial amount of people in prison who cannot be released because their files are lost. I wouldn't be surprised if they're in the building, or eaten already.
The government has tried to sell the property to the Ghadaffi family in the beginning of 2000 and asked other organisations to help them rehabilitate the building, but to no avail.
For me these images portray the downfall of justice, how lives are rotting away, trampled upon and forgotten. All these papers represent a story, a crime, a murder or an other gross injustice. It's just left there to rot.
When photographing, I made sure to be there as early as possible to keep the light soft and be able to photograph as many details as possible. I wanted to show the interesting architecture, as well as how the building is being taken over by dust and dirt while still resembling the grandeur of the building and the importance of the function that the building used to have. Here's the first selection of images from which I've chosen the finals from:
Because I have to focus on the usage of the images, I want to select those that represent the decay of the system of justice most. So this means that I won't just focus on either a detail, or just the architectural features of the building, but a combination that shows how the building has changed, how its function has degraded and how dust and nature are slowly taking over.
Here is my final selection:
I visited the palace three times and found myself having a different attitude every time I came back. The first time I was mostly shocked to see such a mess, the second time I was very determined to get certain images and capture them better than the first time. The third time I was in a rush and missed the excitement and awe of the first time. It's been over 6 months now that I've been and I feel that I should go back now and see what I feel and photograph. It's been an interesting journey and I'm not at all done with that building!
UNE RUINE TOUJOURS BIEN PROTÉGÉE (2014) Available at: http://www.seneplus.com/article/une-ruine-toujours-bien-prot%C3%A9g%C3%A9e (Accessed: 16 March 2015).