Photos from refugee camp a highlight at Pittsburgh’s Arts Festival | Blogh

Photos from refugee camp a highlight at Pittsburgh’s Arts Festival

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One of the more powerful statements at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival is Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.01.16-04.21.16: Displacement / Resilience/ Hope. This installation by locally based photographer Maranie Staab turns the old Liberty Avenue visitors’-information kiosk into a moving testament to the humanity of people who have nowhere to go.

A photo from "Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp" - PHOTO BY MARANIE STAAB
  • Photo by Maranie Staab
  • A photo from "Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp"
Staab made the 18 photos during her recent three-week stay at the camp, which is located in Jordan and is now what she calls “a semi-permanent home” for about 100,000 people who have fled war and other terrors. Most of the refugees are from Syria.

The camp, which opened four years ago, occupies three square miles of desert. Run by the Jordanian government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, it was designed to shelter 60,000, but has instead been home to as many as 250,000 at a time (making it, says Staab, the fourth largest “city” in Jordan).

And Zaatari is of course only one of many destinations for such refugees, of whom Syria alone has produced more than 2.5 million.

Exterior view of "Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp" - PHOTO BY BILL O'DRISCOLL
  • Photo by Bill O'Driscoll
  • Exterior view of "Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp"
Staab says her goal was to show the refugees as individuals, not as the faceless masses so often depicted in the media, and to communicate their resourcefulness in the face of dire circumstances.

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp is located right next to Carrie Mincemoyer's highly visible Dandelions installation on the Liberty Avenue sidewalk. Staab herself is frequently staffing the installation and says she’ll be there especially during high-traffic times, like the weekend. This past Friday, the first day of the festival, she told CP that her photos had already sparked dialogue about the refugee crisis with visitors to the exhibit.

The installation, like the festival as a whole, continues through this Sunday, and attendance is free.


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