CHICAGO (CBS) — “Nowhere People” tells the story of children and adults who have no citizenship.
“Stateless is by definition someone who really doesn’t have citizenship to any country in the world today,” said Photographer Greg Constantine. “They are not recognized as a citizen in that country and in so many ways they’ve been thrown out of society in the way that it’s organized and how we live it today.”
Thirty-nine black and white photographs of people without a secure identity make up the exhibit.
“When I started work on this project, I found there was little attention given to statelessness. It started out as a one year project in Asia, but it ballooned into this 10 year odyssey of what does it look like to be a stateless person in this world in 2017,” he said.
Constantine traveled the world to tell their stories, relevant now more than ever with the United State’s debate about so called dreamers.
“This is a real timely exhibition to have here right now. It’s not just about the technical documents that allow you to have citizenship. It’s all about belonging, identity and how people see themselves belonging in the place they call home and on the reverse side, its’ societies rejecting them, and rejecting the potential they actually have in contributing something to larger society,” Constantine said.
“These Dreamers and all the people in DACA right now are people that see themselves as Americans. They are people who identify themselves a part of the fabric of this country. They have so many amazing things to contribute and at the same time that’s in jeopardy by policies and guess you could say racism and discrimination and intolerance manifested into policy unfortunately.”
Constantine spent 10 years photographing thousands of stateless people in Bangladesh, Myranmar, Malaysai, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Serbia, Italy, the Netherlands, Iraq, Kuwait and Lebanon.
“I think that part of this project is trying to help make people be challenging in rethinking what is citizenship today in 2017, what is belonging in that sense. We need to rethink some things and it’s very relevant to the way things are going in the United States today,” he said.
The United Nations has estimated 10 million people around the world are stateless.
“All ages, all religious, on every single continent you’re going to find stateless people and stateless communities. Its’ inherited from one generation to the next,” Constantine said.
Constantine’s next project is entitled “7 doors” which explores the impact that immigration and detention has on asylum seekers and refugees around the world.
“Nowhere People” is on display in the Gage Gallery through Dec. 2.