Celebrity Fashion

REFUGEES THROUGH THE LENS OF FASHION

 
Celebrated fashion photographer Rankin turned his back on the sumptuousness and glamour to embark on a journey to the refugee camps of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The war-torn country is said to be the world’s deadliest conflict zone since World War II, killing more than 5.4 million people. The conflict is complicated by outside forces and a variety of armed groups fighting both the government and each other.
 
 
The photos are of the citizens of DR Congo who had to leave their villages and live in refugee camps in order to save their lives. Most of these people have lost their families due to the war. They are true survivors trying to lead a normal life amidst the inhuman conditions that surround them. 
 
 
Rakin visited the Mugunga refugee camp with Oxfam and his photographs are now being shown in a exhibition outside the National Theatre in London’s Southbank until December 21, 2008. The exhibition is called Cheka Kidogo, Swahili for "laugh a little." The photos were taken and posed as a fashion shoot and are very different from the images usually coming out of war zones.
 
 
  
Rankin said his images go "beyond statistics and show the human side of the conflict," claiming that Western audiences have become "anesthetized to traditional photographs of conflict victims." 
 
 
 
Each photograph has a story, like Antoinette’s, one of the photographed refugees. She described the conflict, "My husband was a businessman. He is dead. One night those men entered the village. They were assaulting us, shooting people, and setting fire to our homes. My husband was shot. I found his body on the street. I didn’t attempt to bury him. I couldn’t. I had to run. I want my message to be heard. I want an end to this war."