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Lacey Contemporary is honoured to introduce #IAmYezidi, a photographic exhibition of portraits, showing the resilience and strength of Yezidi women when faced with hardship in Iraq at the hands of Islamic State (Isis).
The portraits are the result of a collaboration between photojournalist, Benjamin Eagle and international humanitarian charity, Khalsa Aid. Since January 2016, the charity has supported over 500 women who have escaped a life of slavery at the hands of Isis, and those who have rescued their sons and daughters from captivity. Khalsa Aid continues to provide women with food and clothing, as well as physiological support and rehabilitation. Each month, said charity founder Ravi Singh, increasing numbers of girls are returned after having been rescued from Isis imprisonment, though thousands remain captured.
This exhibition will focus on the inspiring stories of some of these women. Singh said: “We are using the power of art to share the stories of these Yezidi women who have gone through some horrific ordeals yet still demonstrate hope and resiliency. #IamYezidi provides a voice to a forgotten community.” Many of the women featured have survived torture and abuse, and have lost most, or all of their male relatives. “Having survived the most unspeakable cruelty, these incredible women are positive about what the future holds, slowly rebuilding their lives and networks day by day.”
Benjamin Eagle an award-winning photojournalist, who has previously worked for companies such as Nike, National Geographic, and The Guardian, has created powerfully humbling portraits for these inspirational women stating that he was mesmerised by the women who, having experienced such pain and suffering had a strength, power and calmness to them, and hope for their futures.
The Yezidi have been persecuted in the Middle East for their spiritual beliefs. As a minority community, they have been stigmatised as “devil worshipers”, pagans of the Middle East, and attacked by terrorist forces in inhumane and debasing ways. In 2014 their homes were overrun in what has been classified by the United Nations as genocide. Eagle and Singh, together aim to give this community a voice, and help to lay a solid foundation for the hopes and futures of these women. The exhibition is a piece of advocacy where awareness of the Yezidi womens’ plight can be raised.
Lacey Contemporary Gallery
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