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WVU Libraries to host fractured spaces photograph exhibit

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
September 10th, 2015


The photographer who captured the images comprising an upcoming exhibit in West Virginia University’s Downtown Campus Library hopes the viewers will feel a bond with the people in her pictures.

“These photographs are visual narratives, split-second windows opening up to someone else’s world. Individually, they introduce strangers. Collectively, I hope they allow viewers to recognize some piece of themselves within that human story,” said Lois Raimondo, the Shott Chair of Journalism at WVU’s Reed College of Media.

The opening for Fractured spaces: stories of resistance & resilience, sponsored by the WVU Libraries, will be held 4:30-6 p.m. Sept. 17, with remarks at 5 p.m.

Raimondo describes the three-part show as “bringing together work focused on communities disrupted and dislocated by political and cultural conflict.”

Although she took the pictures at different locations and under unique circumstances, Raimondo found herself following a common thread running through the works, community re-defined as survivors struggled, supporting each other, in tumultuous times.

She explained that she follows basic rules of journalism when she begins any project: go to where the people are, show the community as they are and report with context.

The photographs provide a glimpse into the lives of people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan following the Sept. 11 attacks, and Tibetans living as political exiles in India. Raimondo headed to Afghanistan two years after the Sept. 11 attacks and spent three months crossing the mountains with the Northern Alliance Army during the Ramadan Offensive. In 2005, she spent a year working on stories about Honor Crimes in Pakistan. And she spent two years living in Dharamsala, India, amongst the Tibetans community working on stories about Tibetan cultural survival.

“For me, it’s always been a critical mission to pursue stories less told,” Raimondo said. “The stories represented on the walls here are some of the most important stories, personally, I’ve ever done. My goal was to channel their voices as best I could.”

The fractured spaces exhibit is part of the Art in the Libraries program and is underwritten in part by a grant from the WVU Faculty Senate Research grant program and the Office of the Provost.

The newly formed Art in the Libraries program seeks to fill library spaces with art exhibits and pieces created by nationally recognized artists with ties to West Virginia or WVU and noteworthy art created by WVU students.

“Art can spark new ideas, conversation, inquiry, emotion, and memory,” said Carroll Wilkinson, director of Strategic Library Initiatives for the WVU Libraries. “We encourage people to view Ms. Raimondo’s work and talk about its meaning. The Libraries value an exchange of ideas and exploration of new perspectives.”

Photographs will be displayed in three locations within the Downtown Campus Library and address three themes.

  • “In the wake of 9/11” contains photographs taken in Iraq and Afghanistan after the World Trade Center attack. One chronicles Iraqis living with uncertainty on every level, daily bombings, IED attacks, and the complete dismantling of their country’s infrastructure. The other follows Afghan Northern Alliance soldiers fighting their way across the rugged terrain of the Hindu Kush mountains and engaging Taliban forces during the Ramadan Offensive. These photographs will be displayed on the first floor.
  • “Safe house Pakistan” shows a small group of Pakistani women locked up together in a government safe house for endangered women and children. Displayed on the second floor.
  • “Tibet in exile” focuses on the nearly 100,000 Tibetans living as political refugees in Dharamsala, India, building a world parallel to the one they lost after fleeing Tibet. Displayed in the spiral staircase.

Raimondo said the power of still pictures is that they can record moments of people in the midst of struggle and remind others that it’s not gone.

“My goal is to tilt the paradigm and enable viewers to experience a situation from someone else’s point of view,” Raimondo said.

After viewing the exhibit, share your thoughts at or on twitter using #fracturedspaces.


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