"I know America faces a somewhat similar problem and that this is a global phenomenon," said Photographer Tasos Markou Thursday night at the opening of his new exhibition Lives Afloat: The Greek Refugee Crisis through the Lens of Tasos Markou 2015-2017.
The exhibit, portraying the realities facing refugees as they arrived in Greece at the height of the Greek Refugee Crisis, runs until spring 2019 at the National Hellenic Museum in Greek Town.
Markou could not be any more spot on.
This week saw daily headlines dominated by President Trump's "zero tolerance" policy on immigration, a horrifying, inhumane law resulting in the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border. There are babies and toddlers in cages now, literally, because of this atrocity.
This was the final straw for long time arch-conservative writer George Will, who wrote in the Washington Post:
"Amid the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington, there is this glimmer of good news: The family-shredding policy along the southern border, the most telegenic recent example of misrule, clarified something."
That something was his defection from the Republican party and his endorsement of the Democrats to win both houses of congress in November. The zero tolerance policy was also a bridge too far for long time top level Republican operative Steve Schmidt, who also announced that he's leaving the GOP this week.
Given this backdrop/the current political climate, and the fact that Wednesday was World Refugee Day, this NHM exhibit couldn't be any more timely.
More detail on the exhibition can be found via the Hellenic Museum release, which states:
By early 2015, the numbers of refugees pouring into Greece had dramatically increased to hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children. Many fled their home countries, attempting to reach Europe over land and by sea. Most were fleeing violence, war or persecution, and more than a third were escaping the Syrian Civil War. Unlike economic migrants, refugees do not willingly leave in search of new or better opportunities. Rather, refugees are forced from their homes by threat of harm and unsafe conditions.
To compose the Lives Afloat exhibition, the NHM exhibition team utilized evidence-based reports and data from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and imagery of photographer Tasos Markou. Markou, born in 1983 in Larisas, Greece, studied photography at the Diek Voluou Public Vocational Training Institute.
The NHM’s Lives Afloat exhibition shows a perspective of the Greek refugee crisis over a three-year period in three sections,Arrivals, Waiting, and Borders, to illustrate the experience through powerful photographs. Markou found himself changed by the experience, at times working more to provide aid as a volunteer than as a photojournalist.
On Saturday June 23rd Markou, will present a program at the Museum about his efforts to aid refugees in Greece. To get involved in this cause check out the following links:
A quote from immortal Greek philosopher Aristotle is printed on a wall in the exhibition:
"To give away money is an easy matter and in any man's power. But to decide to whom to give it and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man's power nor an easy matter."
The National Hellenic Museum (333 S. Halsted St.) is open to all ages with admission as follows: adults $10, seniors $8, students $8, and children 3 to 12 years are $7. Children under 3 years of age and members receive free admission.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.
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