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Monday 11 July 2022

Refugee Photographers Challenge Stereotypes With Exhibition @ Brighton Gallery

Refugee photographers will challenge stereotypes about people seeking safety in an exhibition opening in Brighton this week.  
Credit Amir Hussain Ibrahimi

The exhibition, Reciprocity: Giving and Receiving Through the Lens of Refugees and Asylum Seekers, contests xenophobic narratives that attempt to depict migrants as takers using images gathered on disposable cameras across the UK, and will run from 8th-15th July 2022. 
Those participating include a professional photographer forced to flee Afghanistan and a former unaccompanied child refugee now working in London theatres. 

The project was created by Jemma Compton, a Masters student at the University of Sussex, in partnership with the Socially Engaged Art Salon in Brighton and the refugee media charity IMIX.  
The reason for this theme is to explore the importance of reciprocity amongst refugee communities. 

In the UK, the government's Hostile Environment policies mean that asylum seekers are not allowed to work, or rent accommodation. 

These laws take away autonomy and agency from asylum seekers forcing them to be reliant on state and charitable aid.   

This feeds narratives that portray people seeking safety as benefit hoarders who get to stay in hotels, when the reality is that most people want to work, to contribute and have the same rights as those with citizenship do.  
Jemma Compton, the student who came up with the idea of the project, said: 

"We chose to use disposable cameras as it creates a sense of the unknown as you cannot go back and edit/delete any photos. 

"It creates an essence of spontaneity and makes you capture photos instinctively. Many of the participants had never used one before. 

"However, it also came with some flaws as for some the flash didn't work which meant that not all the photos turned out as people wanted. 
"I chose this subject as I wanted to see what refugees and asylum seekers thought about the idea of reciprocity … In this exhibition, our participants demonstrate what giving and receiving means to them. 

"And ultimately, here they are, giving a gift to you through their photography in this exhibition." 

One participant, Amir Hussain Ibrahimi, whose artwork forms the poster for the show, added: 

"It was so much fun and weird not being able to see anything and you don't know what the correct frame is. 

"In this project, I understood that there is a big difference between my eye's view and the camera."" 

The exhibion runs from until Friday 15th July 2022 at the BMECP centre in Brighton.

by: Mike Cobley


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