New library exhibition showcases the struggles faced by refugees in Manchester with blurred photographs and poetry

This new exhibition highlights the struggles of refugees as they wait for refugee status which allows them to work and be accepted in their residing country.

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

An exhibition documenting the struggles of refugees as they wait to be accepted in society has been set up in Manchester Central Library. “You can see me but I do not exist” is a collaboration between photographer Alan Gignoux and refugees in Manchester, Birmingham and London, and will be on display in the reading room in Manchester Central library from June 2-30.

The exhibition is intended to coincide with Refugee week from June 19-25, a festival celebrating refugees’ contributions, creativity and resilience.

While photographing refugees in France, Belgium, Austria, and Sweden in 2018, Alan noticed a recurring theme among them was the gradual erosion of self, resulting from prolonged periods of living at the fringes of society. He uses a camera obscura to blur the identity of the refugees which has a practical purpose as most do not wish to be identified, but is also intended to be a visual metaphor for the corrosive impact of the asylum-seeking process on people.

We visited the exhibition and spoke to Alan to find out more about the struggles of refugees for our video report.