The photographers in Fragile Constellations braved a tumultuous world to create long-term photography projects that explore the precariousness of present life. The 2022 Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism Online program brought together students from the United States, Bangladesh, Kenya, Israel, Chile, Finland, and India into a rigorous photographic program. Just like these photographers have come together from distant places through this online program, their projects are interconnected by themes of place, belonging, and displacement. They delve into the intersection of art and activism, mankind and nature, past and present ways of life.
The significance of place is fundamental to the very human stories told here. Jackie Anderson, Joshua A. Berman, Rasha Al Jundi, and Nina Kostamo Deschamps explore diverse remote communities and the challenges the inhabitants face due to harsh conditions, environmental issues, globalization, and territorial control. The plight of refugees and immigrants is examined in the work of Anamika Chowdhury and Francisca Reyes. The psychological challenge of balancing different ways of life is further explored in Tair Adato’s photographs of a 18-year-old Israeli living a double life. Fabeha Monir’s project about impoverished female Bangladeshi garment workers and Taniya Sarkar’s portrait of a singer trying to survive in a post-pandemic world foreground both the struggle and dignity of their subjects.
Survival, hope, isolation, and change are sentiments that come to mind when viewing these powerful and timely projects. While looking outwards at difficult realities, these photographers speak of the opportunity to build a better world and invite us to consider how the medium of photography can help us do that. Like constellations in the night sky, we may be separated geographically, but we are spiritually connected as we search for where we are and where we are going.