Four photographers explore the human side of migration

An intimate series of portraits documenting the faces behind the headlines.

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark” – said the Somali-born Kenyan poet Warsan Shire.  A stark reminder that behind the click-bait headlines and the fear mongering, are the people who risk it all to leave their home countries and start a new life.

It’s a subject that is beautifully and sensitively explored in MIGRATE – a new artistic collaboration between Amastan Paris and UNICEF’s NEXTGen France.

Featuring a series of polaroid images shot by photographers based in France, the exhibition aims to provoke a nuanced discussion around the refugee crisis, by telling human stories of strength, survival and integration.  We take a closer look at four of the original series shot for the project below.

Algae Bory

“These photographs were taken in reception centers of exiles in France. These people are waiting for their status. All have lodged an asylum application and are waiting for a response from OFPRA or when is negative, their summons to the National Court of Asylum. The wait is very often long and painful. Their life is in suspense, their future uncertain. I photographed them with eyes closed in the immobility of waiting to signify this kind of absence to the world.”

Aliocha Boi

“My series is about what we do not see. The old refugee camps in the streets of Paris that have been dismantled. Hostels destroyed. A laundromat where migrants could do their laundry for free. Bridges, many bridges, now empty. Spaces where, sometimes, some traces of life are left. Women and men dead, their names being inscribed on large rough stones, so many gravestones erected at the end of their journey. My series is also about what we see. The makeshift camps, immediately settled, immediately disappeared. Hundreds of refugees waiting to know their fate. Stories that are unique to each other, touching or, conversely, frightening.  Here is the raw reality, without artifice.”

La Petite Touche

“Like millions of people before them, these individuals have crossed the sea hoping for a better tomorrow. We staged putting ourselves in their skins to to translate their feelings and emotions. Although deprived of words and sometimes dignity, the goal was to remember who they are…humans.”

Matthew Firpo

“I looked at these faces and I saw America. This is a group of local high schoolers that I see often in my neighborhood. Spending time with them, taking their portraits, I learned how they are almost all the children of immigrants. Most of them now first-generation Americans. And yet, perhaps because of this, they’re race-blind.  To me, they represent the best of America, in their absolute diversity and unequivocal comradery. They’re Filipino, Mexican, French-Caribbean Jewish, African-American, all hanging out together, as the children of immigrants, as Americans, as the future”

MIGRATE is one of many exhibitions and installations hosted by Amastan Paris in its artistic space – find out more

The project was supported by Polaroid Originals, and all photos involved for the latest edition were taken on the new Polaroid Originals OneStep+ camera


10 November 2018