Yolanda del Amo (ES/US) "Refuge" - Helphoto 2020



Spain / United States

The project Refuge explores the refugee crisis through a sociological prism by focusing on the integration of migrants in Germany after the massive influx in 2015. To confront the images widely seen in the media portraying mostly only masses of migrants or refugees in camps devoid of individuality, Yolanda turns her camera to what happens behind closed doors. The artist chooses to photograph those Germans and refugees who live together under one roof; for example families who have taken in a minor, couples who have formed romantic relationships or flats shared by several roommates. The foundation for these new domestic constellations is a sense of trust between Germans and migrants. In its core lies not only the openness to negotiate differences in people’s day-to-day routines but also the acceptance of unfamiliar foods, cultures and religions. The discourse about immigration often characterizes refugees such as invaders, victims or heroes.

In Yolanda’s photographs, she breaks away from these archetypes and portrays migrants as regular individuals who perform domestic activities with their German roommates. Rather than looking at otherness, Refuge focuses on the togetherness of those individuals who build trust among each other and learn from one another at eye-level. This photo project focuses as much on the German hosts as it does on the refugees. The artist focuses on Germany because of the extraordinary role the country has played in the refugee crisis by accepting astonishing numbers of migrants, more so taking into consideration its history. Refuge offers an optimistic and hopeful perspective on the phenomenon of migration that has previously polarized German and many other societies. Stylistically, Yolanda chose to create staged photographs in order to raise questions about the social constructs of identity, family, home and gender. Furthermore, trust is an essential part of her own creative process too. The artist works with a large format camera and her images are a result of a real collaboration between herself and the participants who generously share their stories with her, trusting that she will protect their identity and use their images respectfully.

Yolanda del Amo is a Spanish-born, New York-based photographer. Trained as a mathematician in Germany, she left behind a career in the corporate world to pursue one in the arts. At the core of her practice is a focus on individuals through a sociological and psychological prism. She explores how people across generations, genders and countries are connected and uses photographic composition to illuminate the influences that shape us as individuals and as social beings. Her solo exhibitions have been held at Centro Pablo de la Torriente Brau in Havana, Hudson Franklin Gallery in New York City, and Light Work in Syracuse, New York, among others. Her work has been included in over 50 group exhibitions at venues such as the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Yolanda’s work has received multiple awards, such as a commendation at the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2009 organized by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC and the second prize at the Salón Nacional de Artes Visuales 2005 in Buenos Aires. Institutions that have supported her work through grants include the Fundación Arte y Derecho in Spain, the Jerome Foundation and the Spanish Ministry of Culture. She has been a resident artist at the Terra Foundation for American Art in Giverny, France, the Spanish Academy in Rome and the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Yolanda del Amo works as an Associate Professor of Photography at Ramapo College of New Jersey.


Yolanda del Amo (ES/US) "Refuge" - Helphoto 2020
Yolanda del Amo (ES/US) "Refuge" - Helphoto 2020