According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are currently 65.3 million forcibly displaced people in the world. This is the highest level of displacement on record, with 33, 972 people forced to flee their homes everyday due to conflict and persecution. Because of these numbers there is not a more seemingly perfect time for the Annenberg Space for Photography to have their REFUGEE exhibit on display, as talks about the immigration policy of refugees are being discussed currently in politics. This exhibit features photographs from different artists featuring refugees from around the world, specifically Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Myanmar, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United States. These photographers traveled the world to capture these images in an attempt to humanize these refugees and to bring to light their stories. Beside each photo (like the one below) there is a caption about the refugee(s) photographed.
“A. cooks in her family home in Say Tha Mar Gyi Camp. She is married, but her husband left her within the last year to return to his family.”
Each photographer featured in the exhibit focused on different aspects of the countries refugees. Martin Schoeller focused on capturing the facial portraits of different refugees who have resettled in the United States as part of the US Refugee Admissions Program, whereas other photographers focused on the juxtaposition of photos of locals who were anti-refugee immigration in other countries and photos of actual refugees and their story. Other photographers chose to focus on capturing the daily life of refugees and really revealing their story.
At this exhibit there is also a virtual reality simulator for visitors to try. This allows them to truly visualize these places in a whole different way. During the simulation, visitors are following different refugees who, as part of a photography program, have been given cameras to capture their daily lives. These allow visitors to get a 360° view of these countries and their living situations.
On display is also a short documentary film about the different photographers and their journey to capture these images. It also emulates the back story of the refugees and humanizes them even more.
This exhibit is currently on display until August 21and is free to the public. Furthermore, across the street at the Annenberg Space for Photography’s sister location, Skylight Studios, visitors can have a more interactive visit. Featured there are more photos but utilizing multimedia as a way to showcase them. Also, there are timelines of refugees and where they have immigrated to and from over the years.
This exhibit is one that should be seen by anyone who is able to go to Los Angeles to view it, as it gives an inside glimpse of these refugees stories. It’s so easy to vote to not allow refugees into your own country without seeing their stories and their faces. However, this allows visitors to have a glimpse at the life of these refugees and the life that they are fleeing. Many, if not most, are displaced unwillingly and forced to leave their homes due to persecution and crime. They would give anything to go back to their home, yet they cannot.
REFUGGEE Exhibit website