Having grown up during the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq, I was struck by the reporting of the Arab Spring, particularly the Syrian conflict and the use of citizen journalism in how the world witnessed it's unfolding. We were seeing conflicts starting and developing entirely in the age of social media and the smart phone. The authors were no longer professionals; but victims, aggressors, participants, supporters, detractors.
I like to imagine there is this archive of the Syrian conflict, entirely created by the Syrian people, huge and personal. It is moments they have chosen for themselves, and the archive is their own. It exists on every single mobile phone of a Syrian person, and all their phones make up the archive. Syrians prolifically share media, always sending and receiving images with friends and family, as a way to show people what they are doing and that they are alive. The archive is not static to each phone, but the phone grants access to interact with it, to be a part of it, to send and receive new parts of it, to contribute and relate to a shared experience. During my 6 years of making work on the crisis, I have collected images from the phones of Syrian refugees, to witness a part of their experience that they have chosen to record and keep.
And what has become of the Syrian people that have left their country? Most that I meet refuse to have their faces shown in photographs. They fear the regime and the safety of their friends and family still in Syria. No group of people wants to disappear, but they fear representation. Being visible. I helped a group of Syrian refugees on Chios, Greece to take self portraits, where they could choose how much of themselves to show. They presented themselves as hidden.