From Kenya to Vietnam, Turkey to Tel Aviv, Exile brings together 22 Magnum photographers documenting seven decades of migration and displacement around the world.
From Kenya to Vietnam, Turkey to Tel Aviv, Exile brings together 22 Magnum photographers documenting seven decades of migration and displacement around the world, in a new exhibition.
Europe is currently witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II and this cannot be ignored, no matter how hard some of us may try to. Earlier this month, the UN Refugee Agency reported that global forced migration reached a record high in 2015, with a total 65.3 million people displaced around the globe by the end of the year. Something has to give.
Tunisian, Egyptian and other nationals flee Libya during fighting between rebels and pro Qaddafi forces and arrive at the border crossing in Ras Jdir near Ben Gardenne, Tunisia. 2011 © Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos
Exile is an exhibition aiming to provide some historical context to Europe’s current migration crisis, featuring 22 Magnum photographers including Robert Capa, Paulo Pellegrin, Stuart Franklin and Jérôme Sessini.
Along the Turkey-Syria border. March, 2012. Syrian refugees arrive inside Turkish territory under the cover of night after being smuggled from in from Syria. © Moises Saman / Magnum Photos
“The idea was to show that if you are a refugee, it is not something that you love doing”, Andréa Holzherr explains, Magnum’s Global Exhibitions Manager who curated Exile. “We receive these people here as if we are doing them a huge favour but at the same time, what we do for them and what they leave behind is in no proportion.”
The images in the exhibition tell the stories of people who have been displaced over the last seventy years, documenting a history of crisis after crisis.
Arrival to Kakuma. Kenya. 2002. © Alex Majoli/Magnum Photos
Our exposure to endless images of the current refugee crisis have distressed, moved, gripped and shocked the world – but are we at a point now where we’re starting to become indifferent, even numb? Andréa doesn’t reckon so, but regardless, she suggests there’s a duty to continue taking pictures. “One cannot just stop reporting on problems like those, just because we’ve seen so many images already, that’s not an excuse.”
While documentary photography doesn’t resolve the problems of the crisis, it has proved instrumental in sparking debate about human rights violations, the treatment of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, or in other words humans. “We are the ones who are also responsible in creating the situation. The public needs to be presented with the result,” she suggests.
South Sudanese displaced. Most of the malnourished children are too weak to walk the 300m to the feeding centre and have to be carried there. Kosti. Sudan. 1988. © John Vink/Magnum Photos
As Andréa sees it, Exile sets out to highlight the sheer number of people who have migrated over the last seven decades. “There were always people on the move, always people who had to leave home, always people that had to leave everything.”
“They want to show people what they are going through. They know that they need the public awareness so they are much more willing to be photographed than you and me and our neighbours when we are out in the street. Photography has always been an easy tool to show things without necessarily speaking a language very well,” Andréa explains.
The battle for Saigon. Refugee from US Bombing. Vietnam.1968. © Philip Jones Griffiths/Magnum Photos
Refugees and migrants are more often than not viewed and discussed by the media as a nuisance and burden to society. Whether it’s David Cameron referring to refugees trying to make their way to Britain as an insect like “swarm” or Katie Hopkins calling migrants “cockroaches”, the language used to describe these groups of people implies that they are unwanted and unwelcome here.
Sleptzovsk Refugee camp. Between 200 and 400,000 Chechens fled to neighbouring Ingushetia since the 2nd Chechen war started in 1999. Chechens and Ingush where formerly in one Republic, their language is very similar. Sleptzovsk, Ingushetia, Chechnya. 03/2002. © Thomas Dworvak / Magnum Photos
It’s exhibitions like Exile that remind us how the world has constantly been moving, and how we’ve a responsibility to provide refuge to those in need. Once it may have been you escaping poverty or persecution, and it may well be again.
Exile presented by Magnum Photos and Canon is open at Visa Pour L’Image Perpignan, France 29 August – 4 September 2016.
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