About the project
Perhaps the largest challenge to have confronted the European Union in recent years has been the migration crisis. According to official data, over two million people reached the EU in 2015 and 2016, but less than one third have received refugee status and accompanying support within the territory of the European Union. The large numbers of asylum-seekers coming from countries where conflicts are rife, but which do not feature highly on the list of countries currently in a state of war (such as Afghanistan), have a much lower chance of staying in Europe.
The migration crisis has posed a fresh set of challenges to the European Union, but has also brought to the fore divisions amongst member states, as well within them. These divisions are evident on many intersecting levels: political, ideological and cultural. They spark conflicts not only in national parliaments, but also in the private sphere, bitterly dividing family and former friends. This tremendous challenge, the shocking events and images of war, the conditions in which millions of people – millions – are living, seems without an end or a seemingly viable solution. The majority of states are not taking effective action, eyes wide shut, painfully slow in their offers to offer effective help.
Between 2015-2017 Omar Marques documented the faces of the migration crisis, weaving in and out of both official and illegal camps for refugees, meeting hundreds of people affected by the war in numerous places of apparent refuge - Serbia, Greece, Austria and Hungary. Amongst thousands of photographs, we chose a few dozen, those which were in contrast to the familiar images of photo- reportage. The images underwent a specific modification contrary to the principles of traditional photo-journalism – the people in them have been erased, they are unseen. The photographs are a striking witness to the presence of refugees, yet the refugees themselves are no longer present. In this way, the distorted reportage transports us into a different sphere of contemplation – we are left only with the traces of hundreds of thousands of people. The operation of “subtracting”, erasing, camouflaging, aims to draw our attention to the absence of refugees in the heated political debate and public discourse. Omar’s photo exhibition presents and brings to the fore the question of the presence/absence of the millions of refugees who are in Europe, alongside us but strangely absent.
Who is behind the project?
The project is organized by the Faculty of International and Political Studies, Jagiellonian University and the Jagiellonian Centre for Studies on Migration (JCSM)
A picture paints a thousand words but without the words themselves, the images are meaningless. In the images of migrant boats, barb-wire fences, tearful children and overcrowded railway stations, violence and human tragedy that have spread inexorably across our screens, we struggle to make sense of the causes, consequences and individual stories that have brought these people to the gates of Europe.
Images of the Unseen: Lens on the Migrant Crisis brings together snapshots of migrant stories through the photos of Omar Marques, taken in Greece, Austria, Serbia and Hungary in the years 2015-17. These images seek to highlight the absence of the human dimension in the politically charged debate about the ongoing flow of migrants to the European continent.
The photo exhibition will kick off with a vernissage on June 30 th at 8pm in Tytano (Dolnych Młynów 10, Kraków), opened by the Dean of the Faculty of International and Political Studies of the Jagiellonian University, Prof. dr hab. Zdzislaw Mach, who has written extensively about migration and identity.This will be followed by an explanation by the curator Natalia Wiernik, who will say a few words about her vision behind the exhibition.
The exhibition will be accompanied by series of events that will help to understand the migration crisis and stimulate discussion about human rights and the role of Europe in the global context. Events will include movie screenings, workshops and discussions.
The project has gained the honorary patronage of the President of the City of Krakow - Jacek Majchrowski and three rectors – of the Jagiellonian University, the University of Science and Technology (Academia Górniczo-Hutnicza), as well as the Academy of Fine Arts (Akademia Sztuk Pięknych).
At the Faculty of International and Political Studies, the project is coordinated by Dr. Natasza Styczyńska and Dr. Karolina Czerska-Shaw.
Who is Omar Marques ?
Omar Marques is a Portuguese freelance photojournalist from the north west of Portugal. Photographing wild twin pandas in the Austrian Alps or the biggest and most evil ice maze in the world located next to the Polish Himalayas, were some of the most dangerous assignments he ever faced. Omar works as a freelance photojournalist for several news agencies on editorial and commercial assignments and has his own studio in the Polish Siberia, KRAKOW. Besides providing news coverage around Central and Eastern Europe and the Wild Balkans, he works on personal long term projects. Since 2015, he has been working on a project regarding the refugee crisis in Europe. Some of Omar pictures have been published in Times, The New York Times, CNBC, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, Paris Match, Le Point, Newsweek Poland, Peninsula Qatar, La Croix among others.
Mobile or Skype
+48 665 043 415 or omar.maques5
Who is Natalia Wiernik ?
Natalia Wiernik is a multimedia artist based in Krakow, Poland. She was a student at the Faculty of Graphic Arts at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow (ASP) between 2008 – 2013. Since 2015, Wiernik has been pursuing her doctoral studies at the Department of Animation, Photography and Digital Media at ASP and also works there as a lecturer. She has received a number of prizes, including the Sony World Photography Awards.
+48 505 234 514