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Nationalism, Networks, Borders: Refugees in Visual Culture and Social Media

Date Mar 29, 2017
Type Panel

Joanna Lehan, curator of “The Flood: Refugees and Representation” section of Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change, leads a conversation with Carne Ross, founder and executive director of the Independent Diplomat, and Tomas van Houtryve, an artist, photographer, and author whose piece Traces of Exile is included in Perpetual Revolution.


Joanna Lehan is an editor, writer, and curator who co-organized three of ICP’s Triennial exhibitions: Strangers (2003); Ecotopia (2006) and A Different Kind of Order (2013). She has edited books by artists Trevor Paglen, Hank Willis Thomas, and Thomas Ruff, among others, as well as contributed essays to several photographic monographs. She teaches in the ICP-Bard MFA Program.

As Founder and Executive Director of Independent Diplomat, Carne Ross has advised dozens of democratic countries and political groups on using diplomacy to achieve their foreign policy goals. In his former capacity as a British diplomat, Ross worked on the Middle East, the global environment, and weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, serving in British embassies in Germany, Norway, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, where he was Britain’s Middle East expert. He was also chief speechwriter to the British foreign secretary. He resigned from the UK Foreign Service in 2004, after testifying in the UK’s first official inquiry into the Iraq war. Author of two books on world political affairs, Ross is a frequent commentator on international affairs on BBC, NPR, CNN, Al Jazeera, and elsewhere, and has written for the New York Times, Financial Times, The Nation, and many other publications.

Tomas van Houtryve is an artist, photographer, and author who engages critical contemporary issues around the world. He was named the POY Photographer of the Year in 2010. Van Houtryves’ first monograph book, Behind the Curtains of 21st Century Communism, was published in 2012. The seven-year project won the 2012 POY World Understanding Award. In 2013 van Houtryve began working on Blue Sky Days, a drone’s-eye view of America. The series was awarded the 2015 ICP Infinity Award and honors from POY, the Photographic Museum of Humanity, and the White House News Photographer’s Association. Van Houtryve has had solo exhibitions of his work in Paris, New York City, and Barcelona. His work is included in multiple private collections and in the permanent collections of the International Center of Photography (ICP), the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago (MoCP), and the Open Society Foundations.

About Independent Diplomat

A nonprofit advisory service of diplomats, lawyers, and strategists, Independent Diplomat (ID) helps democratic governments and political groups use diplomacy to achieve justice. ID offers impartial advice on political strategy, public diplomacy, and international law to help clients effectively convey policy needs to the international decision-making bodies that determine their futures.

ID’s work on the refugee crisis is of particular note in relation to this program and Perpetual Revolution. ID recently supported Syrian refugees in their efforts to ensure that global refugee policy—including the global compacts on refugees and migration due to be adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2018—reflect their needs.

ICP’s public programs and Center for Visual Culture have been made possible through the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support has been provided by The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Tomas van Houtryve's participation in the “Nationalism, Networks, Borders: Refugees in Visual Culture and Social Media” public program has been made possible through the support of the Pulitzer Center.