Phillips@THEARC Presents Portraits of Resilience, Featuring Photographs by Jonathan Banks That Share the Stories of Survivors of Torture
The exhibition is held in collaboration with the artist, the survivors, and Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC)
WASHINGTON, DC—The Phillips Collection presents Portraits of Resilience at Phillips@THEARC, the museum’s satellite campus in Southeast DC. The ongoing photo series by British photographer Jonathan Banks features images of survivors of torture from around the world who fled their home countries seeking safety, recovery, and political asylum. Portraits of Resilience incorporates voices from countries such as the Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The exhibition is on view from April 27 to July 29, 2022.
“TASSC International is the only organization founded by survivors of torture for survivors of torture, in order to bring healing and ending torture worldwide,” explains TASSC’s Acting Executive Director Alysha Tagert. “These portraits give the survivors an opportunity to share their stories in a unique way, visually representing the beauty of their resilience in overcoming their torture experience. We are thrilled that the community can join as a witness to survivor stories and connect with these incredible people. Thank you to The Phillips Collection and Jonathan for joining with survivors in their journey.”
Jonathan Banks began the project in 2018 to educate the public about the practice of torture and allow survivors to share their stories in an exploratory and creative fashion—with the ethos that survivors are the strongest and most effective voice in the campaign to abolish torture. To center the voices and stories of the survivors, Banks asks the survivors to select a photograph of significance to them to then be projected onto their portrait. Whether a serene landscape or a vibrant street scene, the projected images show familiar places lost to the individuals. The portraits speak to their past aspirations, hopes, and dreams. At Phillips@THEARC, visitors will be invited to write letters to survivors and take photos with Polaroid cameras to share their own stories of resilience.
“As we watch Ukrainian refugees flee violent attacks and integrate Afghan refugees into our DC community following the fall of Kabul, these portraits humanize the people at the heart of such enormous conflicts,” says Vradenburg Director and CEO Dorothy Kosinski. “The exhibition continues our work to address important global issues that were also the focus of our summer 2019 exhibition The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement.”
Most participating survivors were tortured by repressive governments for reasons varying from joining oppositional political parties to being persecuted for their religion or sexual orientation, or for exposing government corruption. Not all survivors want to be recognized for fear of repercussions to their friends and family, so some names have been changed to protect identities. The series poses questions about place, home, and humanity in the midst of the growing global refugee crisis.
“Engaging the public through art is the focus of The Phillips Collection’s work at THEARC,” notes Director of Community Engagement Nehemiah Dixon III. “We hope that this exhibition leads to deeper conversations about the refugee crisis, and the role that race, national origin, and class play in impacting who we extend empathy and humanity to and how.”