immigration

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Photography

Portraits of Venezuelan Families Reframe the Harrowing Journey of Immigrants

January 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Arianny Torres packed a few changes of clothes, a couple toys, medicine, diapers, a baby bottle, photos of relatives and her bible into her backpack. With her son, Lucas and daughter, Alesia, she traveled 976 kilometers from Maracaibo to Bogotá. Sometimes they hitched a ride. Other times they caught a bus, cutting into the small amount of money Arianny had put aside for food. Now she sells candy in Bolivar Square and though things could be better, at least life is more stable than it was in Venezuela and her kids are able to eat three times a day. I see Arianny’s determination to find a more hopeful life in her fixed gaze.” All images © Gregg Segal, shared with permission

In his Undaily Bread series, Gregg Segal photographs Venezuelan immigrants with the entirety of their belongings lying around them. Created in collaboration with UNHCR, an organization that helps refugees worldwide, the affective project shows a glimpse at what life as a Venezuelan refugee looks like, from the meager ingredients of their daily meals to the battered sneakers on their feet. Every image posted on Segal’s Instagram also includes a lengthy caption describing each family’s difficult journey.

“For me, photography communicates better than simply words. Statistics are important, but people are not that interested in statistics,” Segal tells Colossal. “They’re emotional because they describe how little the people have.” This consequential series is an offshoot of Daily Bread, Segal’s well-known project that captures images of kids from around the world surrounded by what they eat each day.

“Nathalia Rodriguez (9) who walked from Barquisimeto, Venezuela to Bogota with her mom, ate only bread, crackers, arepas, chips, water, juice, lollipops and the one fruit they could afford, bananas. It’s been 3 years since Nathalia’s eaten an apple. Apples run 5,000 Bolivas now in Venezuela, about $12 US. Despite the harsh road she traveled, Nathalia projects resilience and resolve.”

“Yosiahanny’s daughter feels for the kick of her brother or sister in her mother’s womb. They made the journey from Venezuela surviving on arepas and water. Though life in Bogotá is difficult, Yosiahanny is grateful she’s able to eat more than once a day. What makes the crisis tolerable is love, she says.”

“When I met 7 year old Williams, he showed me his backpack in which he carried a few things from home including his last homework assignment. He misses his grandmother’s arepas and stewed chicken. On the long walk from Venezuela, there was only bread, water, cookies and fruit to eat.”

“Michell, a single mom, made the trip with her two kids twice. During the 2nd attempt, Michell had an epileptic seizure and lost consciousness. 16 days later she made it to Bogotá and was admitted. In her portrait, Michell contends with the dueling energy of her kids, trying to soothe her daughter while her son appears to be driving the bus. After the shoot, her little boy held onto two loaves of bread, carrying them around the studio, tucked under his arms for later.”

 

 



Art

A Swedish Art Collective Handcrafts 17,000 Unique Sculptures Signifying Refugee Youth at Risk of Deportation

October 7, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Photography: Felix Gerlach and Martin Spencer

Seventeen thousand unique sculptures are displayed in a new installation by Swedish artist collective Skaparkollektivet Forma. The group sought to draw attention to the individuality of 17,000 Afghan refugee youth whom the Swedish government plans to deport. The unaccompanied minors came to Sweden in 2015, totaling 23,500 in that year, and were fully integrated into their adoptive communities. However, the government seems to have shifted gears and has reversed its opinions on a majority of the young people.

Working with 1,500 volunteers, Skaparkollektivet Forma created petite sculptural works of art to represent each individual impacted by the planned governmental uprooting. The works are glued to 34 frames in groups of 500, which allows the installation to be easily transported and installed in different configurations.

Since the collective started working on this project, attention has been drawn to the issue, and some of the youth have been allowed to stay, but apparently the majority of the planned deportations are still set to happen. “In the debate on migration, living human beings tend to be transformed into anonymous volumes,” said Skaparkollektivet Forma told dezeen. “But we wanted to understand what this five-figure number actually represented. The installation makes the number 17,000 visible and above all shows that behind every number there is a person,” they explained. “Behind each figure there is a personality, a story, a work of art.”

The work was initially displayed at Liljevalchs art gallery, which is an independent, public gallery in Stockholm. Follow the collective on Instagram and Facebook for updates. (via dezeen)

Members of Skaparkollektivet Forma

 

 



Art Documentary

Irregulars: A Short Documentary Traces Cyrille Kabore's Harrowing Journey as a Refugee Set Against a Mannequin Factory

December 4, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Irregulars is a 2015 documentary by Fabio Palmieri that traces the first-hand immigration experience of a 20-year-old Ghanaian refugee named Cyrille Kabore. The short film is set within a mannequin factory, which provides all of the visuals seen in the condensed documentary. Kabore narrates his journey across land and sea, including harrowing details such as clinging to the bottom of a highway-bound truck, and being held out of the water by his older sister after falling out of a capsized boat.

The audience listens to his words as his actions and heartache are projected onto various mannequins in the surrounding factory. The story is a deeply personal tale, however its greater message is one that can be compared to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who painstakingly flee unsafe and oppressive forces in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East each year.

The film was produced by independent production company NotWorkingFilms, and since its debut has won 19 awards at film festivals across the globe. Watch the fascinating depiction of Kabore’s arduous journey in the video above.

 

 



Art

A Massive Mural by Ella & Pitr Depicts a Refugee Seeking Passage in France

September 13, 2017

Laura Staugaitis

All images courtesy of Galerie Le Feuvre

French duo Ella & Pitr (previously) tackle the gravity of the global refugee crisis in their latest mural, Le Naufrage de Bienvenu/The Shipwreck of Bienvenu. The massive outdoor work reaches over 47 meters (154 feet), scaling the surface of Piney’s Dam in La Valla-En Gier, Rhone-Alpes, France.

Ella & Pitr frequently highlight neglected societal groups such as the elderly and homeless by placing them on highly visible urban canvases like snowy hillsides or old airport tarmacs. Their choice of a dam―a huge aquatic blockade―could be interpreted in reference to the swelling crisis of displaced people crossing the Mediterranean from Africa.

The artists and their team spent ten days suspended from the dam to complete the painting. You can follow more of Ella & Pitr’s work on Instagram.

 

 



Art Photography

A Child Peers Over the US/Mexico Border Wall in a Giant New Photographic Work by JR

September 7, 2017

Christopher Jobson

French artist JR just unveiled a new work in progress at the US/Mexico border. The large photographic piece depicts a child peering over a border fence from the Mexican side, apparently in reference to Trump’s effort to rescind the DACA program which protects the children of undocumented immigrants from being deported. The artist is known for his towering photographic installations backed by scaffolding such as his pieces at the Louvre and the Rio Olympics.

JR will be in LA tonight at Blum & Poe for a discussion with curator Pedro Alonzo about “immigration in the artist’s practice.” Admission is free.

 

 



Photography

Maritime Incidents

February 2, 2011

Christopher Jobson

German photographer Heiko Schäfer captured these delicate yet haunting portraits of wooden boats used by African refugees trying to enter the EU illegally via the Mediterranean. (via pitch design union)