Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ghosts of the Sahara: Photo Exhibition in NYC on the Exiled People of the Western Sahara

Here is an piece from The New Yorker on a exhibition of photos by Andrew McConnell showing Sahrawi refugees and discussing their forgotten (or ignored) plight. It is currently showing in New York City. Click on either of the links highlighted above to see the photos.
May 10, 2011
Living Ghosts: In Exile with the Sahrawi Bedouins
Posted by Caroline Hirsch

On a recent visit to the Half King gallery, I discovered Andrew McConnell’s thoughtful and poignant project on the Sahrawi Bedouins—now into their thirty-fifth year of exile from their native Western Sahara.

McConnell says: “In pursuing the Sahrawis’ story, what struck me more than anything else was how forgotten these people are. How is it possible, in the twenty-first century, for tens of thousands of men, women, and children to languish in refugee camps for three and a half decades—unknown? How can continuous U.N. resolutions and international laws be ignored and abused without censure? And how can human-rights abuses proceed unchallenged?”

McConnell decided to stage his portraits in the darkness: “I wanted to give a sense that this is one long night for the Sahrawis—lasting thirty-five years. My showing very little of the land emphasizes that the Sahrawis are landless. By lighting them simply and in darkness, I am trying to say, ‘Look! These people are here!’ Their statements are a grim rebuttal to international efforts in Western Sahara; the majority want a return to war. Finally, I wanted the viewer to see what I had seen: a people utterly forgotten, abandoned, hidden from the world’s consciousness—a people living as ghosts.”

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