Silent Flight

Photographs by the Cologne artist Boris Becker of the West Saharan people

9 November 2007 to 13 January 2008

Forgotten by the world. For more than three decades roughly 165.000 Sahrawi, people from Western Sahara, must endure incredibly hard living conditions in the inhospitable Algerian desert. Once Bedouins, today they are forced to immobility in four refugee camps and are completely dependant on international aid.

In February 2007 Boris Becker, a well-known photographer from Cologne, travelled together with representatives of the UN-Refugee Aid to the Sahrawi settlements in Western Algeria. Cause of the visit was a benefit marathon in favour of the Sahrawi refugees, that took place for the seventh time this year. Up to now the UN-Refugee Aid funded three aid projects on-site: multipurpose sports facilities for young people, a school project and a visit programme for refugee families, who were separated from their relatives for decades.

Insistently Boris Becker kept hold on the unnoticed tragedy, the silent flight of the Sahrawi people. His photographs are not exposing the typical media pictures from disaster areas, the spectators are used to look at. The casualness of the situation rather than the exorbitant is in the centre of attention. His works of art are showing deserted food containers or crumbled huts in the glaring Sahara sun. Facades of adorably decorated hairdressing salons or car repair shops prove imaginativeness and a growing entrepreneurial spirit of the refugees, who learned to survive in a fascinating, strange and harsh environment.

Boris Becker portrays people from the desert – open minded, proud and calm Bedouins, lost in reverie and a bit astray. But never without hope. Thanks to the artists intense und unique photographs the silent flight of the Sahrawi, one of the last and most bizarre colonial conflicts in Africa, comes back to life again.

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