ABIDE-Installation Grand Rapids Public Museum


Abide: to dwell, to wait

When we travel we look for common elements: the corner store, local restaurants, main street, the indicators of human civilization. We unknowingly draw upon our stored memories of familiarity and comfort and compare them.  In Lebanon, Syrian refugees have these elements but does it compare to our ideals of civilization? We plant roots and build communities, they abide.

This tent is one of thousands that make up refugee camps throughout Lebanon, Jordan, Greece and Turkey. The tents are rented to refugees by military landowners, at a cost ranging from $50-$200 per month. Most tents include limited access to electricity or heat, no running water or toilet facilities. Six, eight, up to twelve family members co-exist in the small space. Many escaped from their homes with little more than the clothing on their backs and no documentation to become legal citizens of the countries they are escaping to. Legal citizenship is required to work, gain access to health care and to send children to school, forcing many educated Syrians to work and survive at levels significantly below poverty. Abide, depicts the human cost of conflict. It aims to help break down stereotypes about refugees and it highlights the difficult journey while bringing humanity to an inhumane war. It­ is a collection of images, full scale replica of a refugee tent and artifacts from undocumented and documented camps in Beqqa Valley and Tripoli Lebanon in 2017. Most have no known direction but forward, away from the war torn country they once called home.

James HermanComment