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Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with…

Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees (Graphic…

by Olivier Kugler

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An artist interviews lots of Syrian refugees then jumbles their words and his images in two page spreads with word balloons and captions that have to be numbered in order to give you any sort of clue of how to read the mess. And often the words don't even fit inside the balloons and boxes, squirting out or jumping to the other side of the page with asterisks. Attention is drawn to certain details in the art, usually random objects, with arrows and labels.

The art is good, make no mistake, and uses an interesting after-image technique to give a sense of movement, though the coloring is at times as random as the text placement. In making a work of art of his project, though, I feel the creator may have distracted me from the human testimony that should be front and center? ( )
  villemezbrown | Apr 7, 2019 |
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"By now,
all the survivors, all who avoided headlong death
were safe at home, escaped the wars and waves."
From The Odyssey by Homer, translation copyright Robert Fagles, 1996
First words
December 2013
Domiz Refugee Camp, Iraqi Kurdistan
"Because it is winter we have hardly any patients visiting us in the clinic right now. People prefer staying in their shelters to walking through the cold.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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While on assignment between 2013 and 2017, often for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Olivier Kugler interviewed and photographed Syrian refugees and their caregivers in camps, on the road, and in provisional housing in Iraqi Kurdistan, Greece, France, Switzerland, and England. Escaping Wars and Waves is the astonishing result of that record keeping-a graphic novel that brings to life the improvised living conditions of the refugees, along with the stories of how they survived. Kugler captures the chaotic energy of the camps through movement-filled drawings, based on the photos he took in the field, that depict figures, locations, and seemingly random details that take on their own resonance. He also gives precedence to the voices of the refugees themselves by incorporating excerpts from his many interviews and portraits sketched from thousands of reference photos. What emerges is a complicated and intense narrative of loss, sadness, fear, and hope and an indelible impression of the refugees as individual humans with their own stories, rather than a faceless mass. Escaping Wars and Waves is an unnervingly close and poignant look at the lives of those affected by the Syrian war and the doctors and volunteers who tend to them.… (more)

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