We recently launched the LensCulture Network with the idea of offering talented, accomplished photographers a place to showcase their work on a global stage while also giving them a place to share, learn and engage with one another. The LensCulture Network began with a small number of hand-picked members, and we are very excited to watch it grow and evolve as new photographers apply and are invited to participate as members.
Each week, we will highlight a project from the members of our Network and publish their work on the front page of LensCulture. We hope you enjoy!
Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution in 2011, the Syrian people have had to flee fighting, growing poverty, radical groups and more. While some have managed to stay in Syria, many others have fled the chaos and destruction and reached the (relative) safety of bordering countries.
Still, the numbers are daunting: 4.8 million have dispersed to nearby Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. Lebanon, a country with about four million nationals, has absorbed a million refugees on its own. In Turkey, meanwhile, the refugee camps are full. The conditions there are relatively good, but a growing number of refugees remain outside the camps because of a lack of space. They are on their own and have no legal status. This is the group I focused on in this project.
All along the 800km border shared between Syria and Turkey, in cities like Reyhanli, Akçakale, Kilis, Karkamis or in the countless small villages in between, one finds a small-scale version of Syrian society: refugee families next to volunteers for the FSA (Free Syrian Army) alongside those fighting for the Islamic Front. In a small stretch you might find generals, civilian activists, journalists, deserters, former students and even foreign fighters coming to make their jihad. You will pass humanitarian workers who drove fifteen ambulances all the way from England to Syria, wounded soldiers who impatiently wait to return to the fight and still others who wonder how to move on after losing a limb.
All of these different people live so close to one another—and yet if they moved just 200 meters across the border, they might be jumping at each others’ throats.
In my project, I tried to capture this confusion and tension. The relationship between my pictures and the captions is not always linear. Some photographs are used as metaphorical material, which the captions support. Others are a testimony so powerful by themselves that I left them to speak to your mind directly, without explaining too much in the text. And a few are not obviously related, but they help complete an understanding of this bewildering—but very real—situation on the edge of the world’s most tragically muddled conflict.