A new exhibit that illuminates the plight of refugees through powerful and evocative photographs is set to open at the Newseum on Nov. 18, 2016. “REFUGEE,” which premiered in April at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, is the first traveling exhibit the Newseum has hosted at its location on Pennsylvania Avenue since the museum opened in 2008. The exhibit will be on display through March 12, 2017.
In images created solely for the exhibit by five internationally acclaimed photographers who traveled across five continents — Lynsey Addario, Omar Victor Diop, Graciela Iturbide, Martin Schoeller and Tom Stoddart — “REFUGEE” depicts the lives of diverse populations dispersed and displaced throughout the world and includes stunning portraits of the new Americans, refugees recently settled in the United States.
Sixty-five million people around the world are displaced, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This exhibit presents a full range of global refugee experiences through singular and compelling images taken in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Myanmar, Serbia, Slovenia and the United States. The photographs capture the hope and resolve of refugees in the face of dehumanizing and life-threatening persecution.
The exhibit also features an original documentary — commissioned by the Annenberg Space for Photography, produced by Tiger Nest Films and narrated by UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett — that captures “REFUGEE” photographers at work on location, delving further into the stories behind their images. Through a virtual reality experience, visitors also will be able to experience what life is like in a camp for internally displaced persons in Soacha, Columbia.
Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Fellowship-winning photographer Lynsey Addario documented the Rohingya people, a disenfranchised Muslim population in the predominantly Buddhist nation of Myanmar. Known for her captivating imagery in such publications as The New York Times, National Geographic and Time magazine, Addario was recently named one of American Photo Magazine’s top five most influential photographers of the past 25 years.
Omar Victor Diop presents photographs of refugees from the Central African Republic who were forced to flee to Cameroon. Known for his work in fashion photography, Diop’s work comprises conceptual projects, including staged portraiture and self-portraiture, with visual references ranging from classical European paintings to post-colonial African studio photography.
Fine-art photographer Graciela Iturbide photographed settlements of Central American refugees in Mexico and displaced communities in Colombia. One of the most prolific Mexican photographers of any generation, Iturbide has participated in group exhibitions throughout the world.
Martin Schoeller’s detailed, close-range photographic portraits of everyday people, iconic entertainment personalities and political and cultural figures, as well as his photographic essays and books, have made him a distinctive and singular presence in the field of contemporary photographic portraiture. For “REFUGEE,” Schoeller has turned his unique stylistic lens to capture portraits of resettled refugees in the United States for a section of the exhibit titled “New Americans.”
Tom Stoddart’s contribution is a photographic narrative of refugees arriving in Greece in 2015 and traveling through Croatia and Serbia to Germany. “During my assignment I saw once again the tired faces of desperate fathers trying to find a place of safety and peace for their families, away from the bombs and inhumanity of war,” said Stoddart. “In Berlin, their faces had changed. … There was still sadness at having to flee the country of their birth, but also optimism and a determination to prosper and contribute to a democratic society that had opened its doors and given a warm welcome to homeless strangers.”
“REFUGEE” is a project of the Annenberg Space for Photography, made possible with generous support from the Annenberg Foundation.