magnum and amnesty international partner to raise awareness of the refugee crisis
The photo agency and humanitarian organization curate a new exhibition that calls for the UK to take more responsibility for refugees.
Stenkovac. Refugee camp. Macedonia,1999 © Cristina Garcia Rodero / Magnum Photos
Few events have defined the year (and the last few) like the refugee crisis. It might've been eclipsed by specters of Brexit and Trump, but both rightward lurches are not entirely isolated or indivisible from the crisis, brought on by conflict and turmoil around the world. The crisis has produced striking, shocking, and saddening imagery, from the Greek Islands in the Mediterranean to the Jungle in Calais. Who can forget the photograph that shocked Europe into empathy (albeit brief) — the picture of the dead body of Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach? Or, more recently, works by Harley Weir, who captured with sensitivity and beauty the homes and landscapes of the Jungle before it was bulldozed? Recent works by Ai Weiwei — arguably the most famous artist in the world — have been devoted to capturing the stories of those who've made their way to Europe in search of a better life.
But these stories of migration and displacement are, unfortunately, nothing new. It's always pertinent to remind ourselves of the times the world has been shook by similar crises, and of the times the world has responded with open arms and hearts. This the subject of a new project and exhibition organized by photo agency Magnum and humanitarian organization Amnesty International. Called I Welcome, the show opens at the Southbank Centre tomorrow. The exhibition collates together over 70 years of Magnum's reportage from the frontlines. The exhibition, in Magnum's words, aims to give a "visual representation of the scale of international displacement since the end of World War II, putting a human face to the statistics and news stories."
It combines recent photos from Syria and Libya with images from conflicts across the world. There earliest images document the immense movement of people at the end of the Second World War, counterpointing images of Greece then with images of Greece now. There's images from Iraq, Vietnam, Chechnya, Yugoslavia. Each photo is a little window in the lives of others, illuminating the many reasons people are forced to flee their homes. Amnesty's I Welcome project aims to shine the spotlight on the British Government and ask it to do more to help those in need. In a world where the tabloid press is all too eager to dehumanize refugees, exhibitions and projects like this — that remind us of the human stories that make up the refugee crisis — are all too necessary.
I Welcome, an Amnesty International and Magnum Photos exhibition of photographs of refugee crises past and present, is on view December 7-18, 2016.
Text Felix Petty
Images courtesy Magnum