From July 26th to September 27th 2018.
One unbearably hot day in June 2013 we entered the Zaatari refugee camp. We would do so every day for the next week and a half. What we saw will remain with us for ever. It is a sad and desperate place. The children and their families are innocent victims of a cruel and devastating civil war raging in their country. The result of our nine days are the images you see around you. They tell of a vast camp (the largest of its kind), a city that although built with impermanent materials is becoming permanent. Home is across the border. It is just a ‘hotel’ they are staying at temporarily, they insist but hotels you can check out of. Refugee camps, its inhabitants fear, are something you never get out of.
The photography in this exhibition is a documentary in that it tells a truth, but in essence the images are a story of the 21st century, telling a deeper universal truth. This is an awful place, sheltering fractured families, scarred individuals and most threatening, the bored and the insecure. There is a hope that can be seen in the faces of the children but if no one sees them and no one hears them then a terrible future is set to be born.
Dawton and McFarlane hope that Hotel Zaatari can define the process in which art can bring understanding and change perceptions towards the innocent people affected by what is seemingly one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. The images are unique works of art, expressing and revealing the core of what it is to be human, and what it is to be humane.
Each voice and image of Hotel Zaatari, gives the subject recognition and a sense of worth. It is a universal story of fear, hope (fading), dreams and ambition for a better future.