The narrative of the exhibit is around the dignity and strength of refugees and the strategic power of compassion.
I’ve spent most of the last 15 years living in war zones, refugee camps and traumatized communities around the world while doing the world of my family foundation. I’ve worked as a white person in Rwanda, an American in Afghanistan and a Jew in Palestine.
I met the people who I’ve photographed during those travels. They live in alleyways, refugee camps, slums and remote villages from Afghanistan to Rwanda to Nepal. They are refugees, orphans, child solids and just plain kids dealing with war, conflict, natural disaster, abuse and displacement. I was face-to-face with them because I was there to help, which is a big part of the connection you see in their eyes.
These kids face daily challenges that bend my spirit and break my heart. Meeting them has made me more thankful and probably a lot more useful.
These photographs would be presented as a video installation that starts zoomed in tight on their eyes, clearly showing me in their eyes, and then pull out to reveal the full face.
The exhibit begins with photos where you can clearly see me in the subject’s eyes. These photographs place me eyeball-to-eyeball with the people that the viewer is about to meet.
These photographs are about stripping away filters, going outside your bubble, making yourself vulnerable and making human connection. The photograph on the left is the first moment of meeting someone where you feel the distance and even suspicion in people’s eyes, The photograph on the right is just a few seconds later where they are filled with opportunity for further connection. The only difference between the two moments is me making a fart sound with my mouth.
We live in a hyper-connected, and in many ways, disconnected world. I am hoping that this group of photos shows the ease of which you can make a connection and the game-changing opportunity that real connection can provide.They are about looking someone in the eye, feeling their humanity and letting them feel yours. So many of the issues around refugees come from treating them as “the other”.
POWER OF THE INVISIBLE SUN
These photographs are from one of my books entitled, “Power of the Invisible Sun”. Invisible Sun is a metaphor for hope. Too often people think about giving someone hope as a soft and cuddly cliché when in fact from my experience hope is incredibly strategic and very often game-changing.
Hope is the most important thing that people need to move forward. The slightest ray of hope can ignite the human spirit’s ability to overcome; that’s the power of the invisible sun.
4 MINUTE MUSIC VIDEO WITH SOME OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS FROM POWER OF THE INVISIBLE SUN AND MUSIC BY STING:
People generally think of refugees as weak and broken when in fact my experience has been that they are more often than not beacons of dignity and strength.
My motivation in bringing these images together for people to meet is not so that they say, “Oh look at those poor kids, I want to give them a hug.” Hopefully people take strength from their strength, feel more thankful in their own life, and in return, go find ways to give people hope, not just by giving money but by giving something of themselves.
Visit these kids and remember the power of the human spirit to overcome. Visit these kids when you need to remember how lucky you are. Visit these kids and ask yourself if you’re doing enough to help.
Everyone has to connect their own dots. I hope the experience of this exhibit, in some small way, helps you to connect yours.
What can we learn from refugees and immigrants? How do we change the conversation from one that is centered around them as “the other” to one that recognizes their potential as teachers.
Too often we think about poor people as stupid or lazy and refugees and immigrants as encroaching on our resources when in fact more often than not it’s not at all a zero sum game. In fact, when you do the math it’s much more likely to be 1+1=3.
In terms of space necessary, I think the exhibit would include between 30 to 40 photographs that would each be about 1meter high and a half meter wide.
These are portraits of some of the poorest people in the world with no access to clean water, toilets, electricity and sometimes even food. They live in fucked up circumstances yet you can see the strength, dignity and grace in their eyes. I am able to take these photographs because I allow myself to be vulnerable which then gives them the space to be vulnerable as well. This is the result of going outside of your bubble.