Review: Wall Street Journal, Traces of Exile

Richard B. Woodward, New York art critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviewed the “Perpetual Revolution” group exhibition at the International Center of Photography Museum (ICP), featuring my Traces of Exile video installation. Below is an excerpt from the review:

“…The section on refugees opens with a wall of black-and-white photographs by Robert Capa and Chim ( David Seymour ) of mass migration during the Spanish Civil War. Ruth Gruber ’s picture of Holocaust survivors on a ship to Palestine in 1947 reminds us of the plight of nationless people both then and now. Five exceptional photographs from 2015-16 by Sergey Ponomarev, Alessandro Penso, Daniel Etter, and Mauricio Lima, depicting Muslim migrants huddled in boats, warming themselves on shore, or being marched through Slovenia by police, reflect the ideals of compassionate photojournalism nurtured by ICP founder Cornell Capa.

A remarkable update of this tradition is “Traces of Exile” (2016) by Tomas van Houtryve. Following the trail of Instagram posts by refugees from Afghanistan and the Middle East as they made their way toward Europe, the Paris-based photographer found the places they had left, where they had found safe harbor, or where they were detained, often on Greek islands. His 15-minute video combines his enhanced widescreen landscapes with their tiny selfies.

A poignant record of the gamble desperate people will take, and of the longing to stay connected with home—many self-portraits feature the Mediterranean as a backdrop—the images also underscore how much social media is shaping personal identity. Given a choice, most refugees embarking for unknown destinations would carry a cellphone rather than a passport…”

Read the full review in the Wall Street Journal.