July 4th 2018
Arles, As a part of the Les Rencontres De La Photography, d'Arles
CASE Art Fund as a part of Les Rencontres De La Photography, d'Arles, France
Live, Love, Refugee + Syrialism
In 2012, Syrian activist turned photographer Omar Imam [b. 1979, Damascus, Syria] was kidnapped and tortured by a militia and only let go when a friend intervened. soon after, Imam left Damascus with his parents and wife, settling in Beirut where he and his wife started a family. In 2016, he moved to Amsterdam, where he currently resides. His family recently received paperwork that will finally allow them to join him.
LIVE, LOVE, REFUGEE is Imam’s photographic response to the chaos erupting in his homeland.
In refugee camps across Lebanon, Imam collaborated with other Syrians to create photographs that talked about their reality, rather than presenting them as a simple statistic. As a refugee himself, Imam understands the loss and chaos of being displaced from ones home. But dreams cannot be eradicated -- dreams of escape, love, and terror. These dreams are what Imam sets out to capture, peeling back the facade of flight to reveal the spirit of those who persevere, despite immense loss.
SYRIALISM directly confronts the reality of torture experienced by the artist himself, and other refugees who settled in Lebanon and various European countries. Like his earlier project, Imam met and talked with numerous refugees, this time focusing on those who were abducted. “Syrialism” recreates painful memories to bring awareness about the psychological and physical torture that persists in the ongoing refugee crisis. This new series seeks to question the perception of justice, home, assimilation, and most importantly, how we receive facts and build connections.
The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation hosted twelve solo exhibitions in a show called HOPE/ A Collaborative Perspective. CASE was invited to present Imam’s work as one of the solo shows. The foundation focuses on humanitarian issues, using art as a visual indicator. Since this is one of the fundamental goals of CASE, we found the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation a perfect setting to introduce CASE Art Fund, which was part of the Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival.