Samuel Gratacap

Look Hard

Samuel Gratacap

BY: Jes Zurell

The powerless, the hungry, the displaced. You may feel like there’s a cat in your stomach when you’re an hour late for lunch, but the eyes of refugees are those of lions who have survived more turmoil than you and your nine-to-five could withstand.

 

But this isn’t a competition – it’s the birth and reinforcement of awareness. This is about staying woke and keeping your priorities straight until things change, because the only thing you can count on is change. This is what French photographer Samuel Gratacap is here to remind you of. It’s brutal and it’s most definitely real news: It’s the ongoing refugee crisis that many Americans only started paying attention to a few months ago, only because they saw photos of children separated from their families at the border, close to home.

 

Photography is an art we celebrate on PROVOKR, but we must never forget its service as a tool, and as a weapon. In his latest show, “Les Invisibles” at FOAM in Amsterdam, Gratacap examines daily life in detention camps around the world.

 

The dusted faces and silently screaming eyes of Gratacap’s subjects aren’t your typical Sarah McLaughlin-soundtracked charity commercial. Hell, most of the refugees in these images have to keep their faces covered to protect themselves from the harsh elements of Libya. They’re more raw, more beautiful than you’d expect. Some could pass for nostalgic Ralph Lauren ads set in the Mojave Desert were it not for the unmistakable tint of poverty, the palpable hunger, the loss.

 

Still you can see the raw power crawling around their insides – those lions – and it’s not going to take orders from anyone. It shouldn’t.

 

There’s been too much other shit swept under the rug for too long, and we’re helping photographers, artists, fellow journalists and activists clean the damn house.

 

Look at these. Look at them hard. Don’t you dare look away.

 

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Empire 2 by Samuel Gratacap, 2012 – 2014

 

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Empire 4 by Samuel Gratacap, 2012 – 2014

 

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From “Empire” series by Samuel Gratacap, 2012 – 2014

 

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From Empire, by Samuel Gratacap, 2012 – 2014

 

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From “Empire” series, Choucha Camp, Tunisia. 2012-2014. Samuel Gratacap

 

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From “Empire” series, Choucha Camp, Tunisia, 2014 © Samuel Gratacap

 

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Les Invisibles, from “Empire” series, Choucha Camp, Tunisia, 2012- 2014. Copyright Samuel Gratacap/ Galerie Filles du Calvaire .

 

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From “Empire” series by Samuel Gratacap, 2012 – 2014.

 

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Detention center for migrants of Zaouia, Libya. December 2014. Copyright Samuel Gratacap.

 

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Detention center for migrants of Zaouia, Libya. December, 2014. Copyright Samuel Gratacap.