عيش حب لاجىء

Live, Love, Refugee

Omar Imam

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This project, “Live, Love, Refugee,” examines the mental state of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, asking how relations and dreams are affected by conflict and displacement. It is a visual evocation of the pain and desire of Syrians who struggle to survive in their new land.

The people I met are in the worst possible conditions, but they have the desire to continue being human.

I chose to make complex photographs, employing symbolism and surrealism, in an attempt to approach the psychological situation of my subjects. I wanted to disrupt the audience’s expectations of images of refugees and to present them with questions rather than answers.

For me this is the best way to express this horrible experience. It gives viewers the ability to imagine horrific and over-photographed (but under-seen) cases like the Syrian situation, where every related story is a copy of a copy of a copy. I like to surprise the audience without being aggressive, avoiding the low hanging fruit of political reaction and focus instead on a deeper human perspective.

Lebanon

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1 of 11

“My wife is blind…I tell her the stories of her favorite TV series and sometimes change the script to create a better atmosphere for her.”

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2 of 11

“There was only grass. I couldn't pass it through my throat, but I forced myself to swallow it in front of the children so they would accept it as food.”

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3 of 11

“But at least before we divorced he was useful in keeping harassers away from me and my daughters.”

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4 of 11

“For a moment, I felt like we were talking to a car technician - not a doctor. We are refugees, but we are still human.”

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5 of 11

“I was afraid when it was calm, when they checked to see who had passed away and who was injured. I felt safer in the midst of the shelling. I preferred to sing or listen to music when it was calm.”

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6 of 11

“I wish to become a dragon and to burn the scarves and everything in that tent.”

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7 of 11

“Now that we’re in the camp, she brings home the food. Our testicles are in danger.”

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8 of 11

“In Lebanon, I found myself in narrow places. I start feeling anxious now when I am in an open space.”

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9 of 11

“In Lebanese society we are outsiders and it doesn’t matter that we are not married. We were not able to have the same privacy in Syria.”

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10 of 11

“The gap between me and my memories from Syria is becoming bigger. I’m afraid of the blankness.”

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11 of 11

“Through this project, I was able to rediscover my story through their stories. I’m a Syrian refugee myself, and we are making one team.”

Omar Imam

Syria

Omar Imam is a Beirut-based, Syrian photographer and filmmaker. In his photographic works, Imam uses irony and a conceptual approach to respond to the violent situation in Syria and he often has to publish his work under a pseudonym. After leaving Damascus in late 2012, he began making fictional short films that often focus on the Syrian refugee experience. Individually and with NGOs, he has produced films, photography projects, and workshops for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

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