Milaya – Patterns of Home
Nora Lorek, Sweden
Nora Lorek, born in Germany in 1992, living in Sweden since 2005. She studied photojournalism at Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall and has worked as a concert photographer. Winning the title of College Photographer of the Year in Sweden earned her commissions from National Geographic and others. By now her pictures have also been published in the New York Times, in Die Zeit, in Dagens Nyheter and in Expressen. One of her larger projects is Calais Jungle, a sociological-visual long-term study of a French refugee camp. Her main theme is the main theme of our day – migration.
Saving the most precious bit of home. Furnishing memory with something tangible. Reassuring yourself of your skills and history. It all becomes manifest in the backdrop to the women and children portrayed here. These are embroidered bedspreads, called milaya. The women brought these milayas with them to Uganda as they fled the civil war in South Sudan. They are a piece of home and they represent the hope to be able to return. Is fleeing peaceful? No, never! But when the jury appreciated these pictures by Nora Lorek as images of peace, they did so because they are, after all, the symbol of a happier life. A symbol that people cling to. At the same time Nora Lorek’s photographs point to an issue widely ignored: There are indeed some very poor countries that take in refugees. An estimated 270 000 refugees live in the Bidibidi camp in north-western Uganda. And who knows, for instance, that even a country like Ecuador has by now taken in 400 000 refugees, from Venezuela in this case. We should remind ourselves of that when we in Austria, in Germany, in very rich Central Europe, complain about ‘waves of refugees’. And when here, first the hearts, and then the borders, revert to stone and barbed wire. (Text by Peter-Matthias Gaede)