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Omar Imam / CASE Art Fund presentation in Arles
Omar Imam photograph of Syrian refugees in a suitcase
Omar Imam / CASE Art Fund presentation in Arles

Les Rencontres de la Photographie

July 2 - September 23, 2018

Omar Imam

In 2012, Syrian activist turned photographer Omar Imam was kidnapped and tortured by a militia and let go only 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 and his family currently reside.

ShowCASE is the final presentation of funded projects. Works are exhibited in a variety of ways that best fits the message. Traditional galleries, billboards, libraries, kiosks, murals and other forms of public presentations will be considered and decided upon by CASE in collaboration with the artists 

This exhibition was made possible through the support of the following CASE partners:



Art Mill Group 

Karam Foundation

Manuel Rivera Ortiz Foundation

#WithRefugees /UNHCR

CASE presented a photographic installation of work by Syrian artist Omar Imam, at the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz foundation in Arles, as part of Les Rencontres de la Photographie. Imam spoke with Syrians in refugee camps throughout Lebanon discussing their hopes, dreams and fears. Together, they created a powerful art project about issues facing those who were forced to leave their homeland. CASE Art Fund is dedicated to pursuing human rights issues through photographic exhibitions.

Omar Imam photograph from "Live Love, Refugee"

Live, Love, Refugee

"Live, Love, Refugee" is Imam’s photographic response to the chaos erupting in his homeland. In refugee camps across Lebanon, Imam collaborated with 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, dreams of love, and dreams of terror. These dreams are what Imam set out to capture. The resulting images peel back the facade of flight, revealing the spirit of those who persevered, despite losing everything that was familiar. These composed photographs challenge our perception of victimization, and allow us to know them as survivors. 


"Syrialism" directly confronts the reality of torture experienced by the artist himself, and other refugees who settled in  various European countries. Like his earlier project "Live, Love, Refugee," Imam met and talked with numerous people who were abducted. "Syrialism" recreates painful memories to bring awareness about the psychological and physical torture that persists in the ongoing refugee crisis. This series seeks to question the perception of justice, revenge, home, assimilation, religion, and most importantly, how we receive facts and build connections. Omar Imam is both a witness and survivor, whose photographs reveal the human face of suffering. .


September 25-27, 2018

Chicago 1.jpg

EXPO Chicago is one of the leading art fairs in the USA, featuring 135 exhibitors. CASE was invited to present Imam’s work as one of their special exhibitions. 

"From its inception, EXPO Chicago has been committed to showcasing the work of nonprofit and cause-related organizations at our annual exposition. Working consistently with Human Rights Watch, NRDC and other local groups that utilize artists to communicate issues and ideas, we were proud to welcome CASE Art Fund this year. CASE Art Fund’s exhibition, featuring the work of Omar Imam, illuminated the global challenges of the Syrian refugee crisis and we look forward to seeing what they propose next year."

Tony Karman [President & Director of Expo Chicago]

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EXPO Chicago is one of the leading art fairs in the United States that is committed to highlighting non-profit organizations that focus on humanitarian issues. Since this is the fundamental goal of CASE, we found EXPO Chicago to be the perfect venue to create a new interactive presentation of Omar Imam’s [do hyperlink] work. CASE transformed a typical art fair booth into a refugee tent, using photographs and a video to further the discussion about the refugee crisis. Visitors walked into the tent, confronted by two photographs hanging opposite one another: a self-portrait of Imam talking about his own torture, and one of a Jihadist who stopped killing after receiving a message from God. Between the two photographs played a video Imam created about his first project, Live, Love, Refugee. Outside the tent hung photographs from clotheslines, referencing details from several of Imam’s images

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