For the past 25 years Fazal Sheikh has highlighted the plight of displaced people and refugees around the world. He has photographed people driven from their homes by war as well as those upended by the redrawing of national borders and the reassertion of racial and ethnic divisions. Sheikh has also made sublime photographs of landscapes altered by political and environmental crises.
In the past two years, the shift to the political right in the US has been replicated across Europe, the Middle East, Central and East Africa and Southeast Asia, as authoritarian governments and xenophobia have increased. As an act of refusal to these political trends, Sheikh sought out the celebrated novelist and critic Teju Cole for a collaboration that would reinforce their commitment to the ideal of a compassionate global community as well as the importance of individual courage.
The resulting book represents the two authors’ distinct visions, their shared values and mutual spirit of cooperation. With Cole’s words and Sheikh’s photos we are confronted with fundamental and newly necessary questions of co-existence: who is my neighbor? Who is kin to me? Who is a stranger? What does it mean to be human?
We are always looking forward and backwards, inside and out. We are and we are not what we see. Doubleness is the first condition of the human. We are not ourselves without also being the Other. Teju Cole