Fazel Sheikh's Refugees
June 24, 2005 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Fazal Sheikh's photographs have documented the plight of refugees in camps across Central and East Africa and the Middle East. However, his photographs are distinctly different from the images of refugees we commonly see in printed news articles. Sheikh's photographs implicitly assert that the individual refugees share humanity with their oppressive rulers. He does so by depicting the individuals in portraits rather than as victims of a social and political drama. Sheikh, an American citizen, was just awarded the Grand Prix International Henri Cartier-Bresson.
posted by matteo (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Last year, the HCB award went to Larry Towell (11 MB .zip file with hi-res images). 3MB Towell press release here
posted by matteo at 1:11 PM on June 24, 2005

Wow. A mensch, and an amazing photographer. He knows what's important about people and shows it.
Those photos make clear that Sheikh was touched by these weathered men, but when they've retired, he meets someone whose story strikes a more personal chord—a 19-year-old who was born days after his parents fled to Pakistan and has lived his whole life in exile. "As he spoke about his country," Sheikh writes, "I recognized the cadence of longing in his voice, not for politics or society but for something more intimate and less grand. It was a child's need for the touch and sensation of an animated history, the desire to inhabit a place that only exists in stories brought to him in the flickering evening light."
If you're just going to click on one of those links, click the "portraits" one—it will give you a good idea of what he does and why it's so good.
posted by languagehat at 2:13 PM on June 24, 2005

Those are gorgeous. They give a dignity and gravity to the refugees that I've never seen in any other refugee photos--it's like these men and women are great kings and queens exiled from their land.

It doesn't have the gut punch of more traditional refugee/disaster photos, but I dunno, it's just as sad.
posted by schroedinger at 3:59 PM on June 24, 2005

Excellent. Thanks matteo.
posted by peacay at 6:24 PM on June 24, 2005

Great stuff, thanks.
posted by blendor at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2005

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