When we are confronted with the reality of uprooting ourselves to flee a place or country in order to survive, material possessions become almost insignificant in the balance of what matters. This is the stark reality that confronts most refugees. Photojournalist Brian Sokol has assembled a series of photographs of refugees crossing the border from Sudan’s blue Nile state and South Sudan’s Upper Nile state as well as Syrian refugees who fled to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.
“By contrast, people seeking sanctuary from the conflict in Syria must typically conceal their intentions by appearing as though they are out for a family stroll or a Sunday drive as they make their way towards a border. Thus they carry little more than keys, pieces of paper, phones and bracelets – things that can be worn or concealed in pockets. Some Syrians bring a symbol of their religious faith, others clutch a reminder of home or of happier times.”
The New Delhi, India based photojournalist has been documenting life in Asia for more than 10 years. Being fluent in Nepali, he has covered political and cultural upheaval in the region such as in the Himalayas.
He is also a close observer of the economics of global migration. His work has earned him numerous awards and accolades, and has been exhibited in the USA, Japan, Korea and Nepal. Among his awards is the 2007 Eddie Adams Grant from National Geographic Magazine, which is given annually to an outstanding young photographer during the first 3 years of professional experience.
“If you don’t feel anything when you tale a photograph, people won’t feel anything when they look at it,” says Sokol. You will understand Sokol’s emotional connection to his work once you see any one of his photo essays.
The poignant series called The Most Important Thing, graphically shows the harshness of how we exist in different realities. It is also a reminder that people are still struggling on a daily basis, by the hundreds, if not thousands, for their lives. Viewing the series also makes one ponder the thought of how our lives have become so cluttered by unnecessary possessions. The photos show us that we are all essentially the same, once stripped of life’s inherent complexities. We all love our families, want to do our best to provide life’s basic necessities, and crave safety and security. It is a thought-provoking series that everyone should find the time to look at.
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