Walled Off: The Politics of Containment on exhibit for first time in Canada

University’s Founders’ Gallery presents photography exploring themes related to environments of confinement

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Jennifer Sowa, Libraries and Cultural Resources

NOOR’s Za’atari Project artists: Nina Berman with Andrea Bruce, Alixandra Fazzini and Stanley Greene, Nina Berman/ NOOR, Daily food distribution, video still, 2014.

Project artists: Nina Berman with Andrea Bruce, Alixandra Fazzini and Stanley Greene, Nina Berman.

Daily food distribution, video still, 2014

The Za’atari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan; the detention facility at the U.S. naval station in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; barriers along the U.S.- Mexico border; detention centres in Argentina to which thousands disappeared during the military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. Such places make international headlines. We hear about the politics behind them and messages from world leaders. Then there are the personal stories.

Poignant photographs from these locations are going on display for the first time in Canada at the University of Calgary’s Founders’ Gallery at The Military Museums. The exhibition explores themes of detention, containment and the quest for liberty and human dignity.

Peter van Agtmael, from In the Shadow of Trump’s Wall, USA. Brownsville. Texas, 2016.

Peter van Agtmael, from In the Shadow of Trump’s Wall, USA. Brownsville. Texas, 2016.

Walled Off: The Politics of Containment opens to the public this weekend as part of the Exposure Photography Festival. The exhibition features the work of international photographers who captured images in environments of confinement such as refugee camps and detention centres.

“Perhaps the ultimate denial of freedom is captivity,” explains Dr. Dona Schwartz, PhD, guest curator of the exhibition, professor in the Department of Art and president of Exposure. “This exhibition brings together photographic work that explores state suppression, control and containment, and summons the never-ending quest for individual liberty and human dignity.”

Edmund Clark, from Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out, Camp 1, exercise cage, digital chromogenic print, 2010.

Edmund Clark, from Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out, Camp 1, exercise cage, 2010.

The exhibition of 110 images includes the work of Edmund Clark (U.K.), Paula Luttringer (Argentina) and Peter van Agtmael (U.S.). A section is dedicated to images from the Za’atari Project, an initiative supported by the United Nations Refugee Agency and Japan Emergency NGOs. This features work by members of NOOR international photo agency, artists Nina Berman, Andrea Bruce, Alixandra Fazzina and Stanley Greene.

“Programming in Founders’ Gallery is dedicated to engaging the public with themes related to the broad area of human conflict,” says Katherine Ylitalo, curatorial co-ordinator of the gallery. “We’re pleased to organize this exhibition in collaboration with Exposure Photography Festival to open the dialogue and take a closer look at many world events through the work of contemporary photographers.”

Paula Luttringer, from El Lamento de los Muros (The Wailing of the Walls), inkjet print, 2000-2005.

Paula Luttringer, from El Lamento de los Muros (The Wailing of the Walls), inkjet print, 2000-2005.

Walled Off runs until May 20. The exhibition is organized with support from Calgary’s Resolve Photographic Services and ABL Imaging Group. Edmund Clark’s work is on loan from the International Center of Photography in New York City.