'You can see me, but I don't exist' Exhibition

'You can see me, but I don't exist' Exhibition

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Posted 2023-06-30 by dpmfollow

Wed 31 May 2023 - Mon 07 Aug 2023

An exhibition of photography and words at Library of Birmingham explores the invisibility of refugees in the UK. ‘You can see me, but I don’t exist’ brings together a collection of images taken by photographer Alan Gignoux.

On display in the Shakespeare Memorial Library until 7 August, the free exhibition is presented in collaboration with the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project.

Gignoux discovered that a common theme among refugees he was photographing across Europe was the gradual erosion of self after prolonged periods of living at the fringes of society. Many of the refugees spoke of being invisible both to the immigration bureaucracies and to the wider societies in the countries in which they were seeking asylum.

The title of the exhibition comes from the words spoken by a young Afghan man seeking asylum in Sweden.

Working with a camera obscura, Gignoux photographed people seekng refuge in the UK, using a long exposure to blur the identity of the refugees while leaving the background in focus. The intentional blurring both symbolises their invisibility in the asylum application process and also has a practical purpose as many people seeking refuge live in fear of the authorities and prefer to remain unidentifiable.



Gignoux was keen to include the refugees’ voices in the project and so he invited the people whom he photographed, as well as other refugees, to write a creative response to the blurred portraits. Their creative writing was developed in workshops led by poets including Malka al Haddad in Birmingham, Laila Sumpton in London and Ambrose Musiyiwa in Manchester.

The pilot phase of the project took place in London in summer 2022. Then, following a National Lottery Project Grant, the project was extended to Manchester and Birmingham in autumn 2022 and spring 2023.

In Birmingham, Gignoux worked with two refugee organisations, Stories of Hope and Home and Baobab Women’s Project, an advocacy organisation with refugee and migrant women.
‘You can see me, but I don’t exist’ is a collaboration between the photographer and the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project, whose mission is to unlock the first, oldest and largest Shakespeare collection in any public library in the world. The exhibition incorporates a selection of items that engage with stories of exile, highlighting texts including excerpts from The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors.



Tom Epps, of Library of Birmingham and the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Alan Gignoux, Stories of Hope and Home, and the Baobab Women’s Project to explore the connections between our vast Shakespeare Collection and people seeking refuge here in Birmingham. Birmingham is more ethnically diverse than most British cities and our collection speaks to all our local communities featuring Shakespeare’s works, artefacts and plays in nearly 100 languages.

“Through highlighting themes of exile and refuge in Shakespeare’s work we see they are as relevant today as they were 400 years ago. We want to ensure everyone who visits feels welcome and sees their voice represented in our collections. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the exhibition.”

A Shakespeare-themed writing workshop related to the exhibition takes place on 29 July. Places are free but need to be booked [LINK https://www.facebook.com/events/617779630317687/?acontext=%7B%22event_action_history%22%3A[]%7D here].

For further information on the exhibition visit here or here .

#photography
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%wnbirmingham



220424 - 2023-06-20 15:47:11

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