On November 18, 2016, the Newseum, in partnership with the Annenberg Space for Photography, will open “REFUGEE,” a groundbreaking exhibit that illuminates the plight of refugees through powerful and evocative photographs. 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. The exhibit will be on display through March 12, 2017.
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.
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.”
“The Newseum is honored to host this important and commanding exhibit that harnesses the power of images to inform, challenge and provoke action on this global crisis that has affected lives across the world,” said Jeffrey Herbst, president and CEO of the Newseum.
“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.
“On a hot-button issue like the global refugee crisis, it’s easy to get caught up in the partisan bickering, the fierce policy arguments on both sides. In this powerful exhibit, I believe we go much deeper than that — it explores the lives that are upended, the profoundly human struggles and triumphs that are at the core of these debates, in ways that only the very best photographic art can do,” said Wallis Annenberg, chairman, president and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. “We believe it’s stirring and unique work, which takes us right into the beating heart of the crisis. We’re excited that it’s coming to the Newseum, and hope it makes a small difference in the heart of our nation’s capital.“
“This remarkable initiative is very timely, coming as violence and human rights abuses uproot people around the world at an unprecedented pace,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “The photographs in this exhibit portray their courage, resilience and strength. They show that this is not an anonymous movement; these are ordinary people who have been forced to flee.“
The exhibit 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 will also be able to experience what life is like in a camp for internally displaced persons in Soacha, Columbia.
The Newseum is dedicated to free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Headquartered on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the Newseum’s compelling, dynamic and engaging exhibits, programs and education initiatives help ensure that these fundamental freedoms remain strong and protected both today and for future generations. The Newseum Institute promotes the study, exploration and education of the challenges confronting freedom through its First Amendment Center and the Religious Freedom Center. The Newseum is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Freedom Forum. For more information, visit www.newseum.org.
The Annenberg Space for Photography is a cultural destination dedicated to exhibiting both digital and print photography in an intimate environment. The space features state-of-the-art, high-definition digital technology as well as traditional prints by some of the world’s most renowned photographers and a selection of emerging photographic talents as well. The venue, an initiative of the Annenberg Foundation and its trustees, is the first solely photographic cultural destination in the Los Angeles area, and has created a new paradigm in the world of photography.
U.N. Refugee Agency UNHCR works worldwide to protect, assist and find solutions for refugees, internally displaced people and stateless populations. It has over 10,000 staff across 126 countries, many working in humanitarian emergencies and in close proximity to regions of conflict.