Fazal Sheikh | Common Ground
Portland Art Museum
February 24, 2018, through May 20, 2018
PAM Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday 10 AM—5 PM & Thursday, Friday 10 AM—8 PM
Human rights and dignity form the core of Fazal Sheikh’s photographs. For more than 25 years, he has worked with individuals rendered invisible by war, ethnic and religious strife, climate crises, and social banishment, inviting them to share their stories of unimaginable hardship and perseverance. Featuring works from eight of his series, Common Ground demonstrates Sheikh’s sustained attention to the displaced around the world, and his drive to amplify the voices of the marginalized through his documentary-based photographic practice.
Born in New York City in 1965 to an American mother and Kenyan father, Sheikh spent many childhood summers with extended family in Nairobi. After studying photography at Princeton University, he returned to Kenya on a Fulbright scholarship, living for extended periods near refugee camps harboring people displaced from Somalia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Rwanda. Unlike most photojournalists who spent less than a day in the camps before photographing their subjects, Sheikh built relationships with the residents over months and, often, years. People posed for his camera as they wished to be portrayed, and the resulting photographs are collaborative works between the artist and sitters. First-person testimonies that accompany the photographs amplify the voices of individuals who advocate for themselves, their families, their communities, and the future. More information about the exhibition can be found here.