Omar II & Desiré van den Berg

Everything is Perfect
Video, 2020; book & pictures in frames, 2021

‘Everything is perfect’ by Omar II is a unique perspective on Dutch society. What buildings, people and landscapes draw Omar’s attention when he flees Senegal and arrives undocumented in the Netherlands? Through photography he visualizes the cultural differences and shares intimate moments of his life as well as his fascination for the people, architecture and perfect flowers he encounters.

From the moment Omar leaves his home country Senegal, he and his camera become inseparable. Omar captures everything fascinating him on the road – from colorful flowers to skeletons in the desert. His journey through the continent of Africa takes him seven years. His photos become his most valuable possession as tangible memories of the road travelled.

When Omar reaches Libya, his last stop before crossing into Europe, his camera is taken from him as he is being held captive in a detention centre. His begging to keep his memory card goes unanswered. When Omar escapes Libya and manages to reach Europe by boat, he eventually arrives in the Netherlands in 2017. One of the first things Omar sought to do was buy a new camera to document his new life in the Netherlands as an undocumented refugee, of which a selection of photos can be found in this book.

Omar captures the places he sleeps at, the streets he strolls down and the many people he meets along the way as his camera becomes an icebreaker. Taught only to read Arabic from studying the Quran in his home country, he is fascinated by the roman alphabet – a theme frequently occurring in his images, sometimes accidentally telling a story that could be his own.

Photography turns out to be able to help Omar to forget about his problems, as stepping behind the lens gives him the comfort of looking at Dutch society from an outside point of view while simultaneously trying to become part of it. If you ask Omar about what’s depicted in his photographs, his answer will almost certainly be ‘everything is perfect’.

The idea for this book came from a desire of Omar, known back in his village in Senegal as ‘Omar II’ were you ever to come looking for him there, to literally share his point of view. The production of the book was made possible by the generous donations of many. ‘Everything is perfect’ is a tribute to Omars optimism and positive spirit. 

Dutch photographer Desiré van den Berg got to know Omar while working as a volunteer at a homeless center. In 2021 she initiated a crowdfunding on Voordekunst, to fund the photography book. All profits from the sales of this book went to Omar, so he could buy a new camera, a better camera, to further develop his talent and passion for photography.