Faces of Asylum - and some thoughts on small words...

"Asylum"... 
"To seek refuge"...
"The state of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or difficulty." 
Read those words again. Please.

Small words often carry the grandest meaning. "Safe" is one of those words. A word can carry people across oceans and through dark nights. It can set us on an unknown direction, trusting that anywhere is better than right here. A word can make us leave everything, and everyone, behind. "Safe" is indeed one of those words. Too big for it's own frame.

Maybe our small words are part of what causes trouble for us in Europe right now. Maybe we rely too heavily on a language that cannot reach the depth of what's going on around us - and so we easily overlook it. Not because we want to - but because our words are not big enough to make things click in our minds. Sometimes, I believe, it's better to feel, than to think.

A few weeks ago my good friends in Red Cross called me up for a portrait shoot of some of the staff on their newspaper for asylum seekers in Denmark. The newspaper, apart from the editor, is entirely run by asylum seekers and they do an amazing job! A few years back I did a workshop for them, an introduction to photography and the art seeing, rarely have I seen an audience more ready to learn and explore, and I was happy to come back now. Some faces were familiar and some were new. We setup a small studio in the corner of their newsroom.

When we started shooting I was stunned by every single one of these beautiful people! Not because of what they could or couldn't do in front of my camera, but because of the depth they all brought with them. I don't know their stories or background - and I don't really need to, because we'd be back where we started: Words are, at times, so profoundly small and simplistic.

Below are a few samples from the day. Please take a look at these people and think about the concepts of being "Safe", or "out of Danger". Or having reached a "Refuge from Pursuit". It's something more grand than the current discussion rolling over Europe, and I only wish some people would stop using words and start looking instead.

 

Thanks for stopping by! And to my friends at NT - thanks for sharing your eyes with me.

Houda, Palestine

Houda, Palestine

Steer, Syria

Steer, Syria

Ahmed, Somalia

Ahmed, Somalia

Ismael, Algeria

Ismael, Algeria

Sam, Egypt

Sam, Egypt

Anonymous, Iran

Anonymous, Iran

Anonymous, Iran

Anonymous, Iran