Pictura Gallery

Yolanda del Amo | Refuge

January 25, 2021

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In a flash of hope on the heels of turmoil, we ask… can people really rise beyond their differences and live peaceably with each other? And what about actually living with each other, I mean, in the same space, despite dissimilarities.

Yolanda del Amo brings her studied eye for domestic detail and body language into the homes of recent migrants integrated into Germany. In her project, Refuge, she shows the human capacity for concord, even friendship, when homes and minds are nudged open. In the isolation of the pandemic, could it be that the experience of sharing of mundane everyday minutia is the powerful uniting force we’ve been missing? When we cohabit playgrounds, church rooms, and seats on the couch, when we emerge from the myopic glare of the screen and return to each other, can we begin healing the disease of our hostility?

A thriving society might look like this: making gingerbread houses together, reading the Little Prince out loud, working in the garden. I don’t mean to downplay the task at hand, but Del Amo’s pictures have me thinking that some of our work might not be as complicated or as unreachable as we imagine.

-Lisa Woodward

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Refuge” focuses on the integration of migrants in Germany after the massive influx in 2015. To counter the images widely seen in the media portraying masses of people or refugees in camps devoid of individuality, I turned my camera to what happened behind closed doors and photographed Germans and refugees who peacefully live together under one roof, for example families who have taken in a minor, couples who have formed romantic relationships, and flats shared by several roommates. These new domestic constellations are built on a sense of trust between Germans and migrants, and an openness to negotiate their differences in habits, food, culture and religion.

The discourse about immigration often characterizes refugees as archetypes such as invaders, victims or heroes. In these photographs, I break from those categories and portray migrants as regular individuals who perform domestic activities with their German roommates. I focused on Germany because of its unique role in the refugee crisis, and Refuge” is as much about the German hosts as about the refugees. Rather than looking at otherness, Refuge” emphasizes togetherness of the individuals who learn from one another at eye-level. Ultimately, I aim to convey a sense of shared humanity that transcends politics. Refuge” is a hopeful project about intercultural understanding and peaceful coexistence in a world that is fractured and in need of connection, even more so after months of isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

- Yolanda del Amo