Uncertain Journeys

Photographer Ashley Gilbertson Documents the Human Costs of the Refugee Crisis

Ashley Gilbertson and the Refugee Crisis
A refugee shelter at Templehof Airfield in Berlin, Germany, on Dec. 11, 2015. Templehof is a former Nazi-era airport dating back to the 1920s, and was used during the Berlin Airlift in 1948. The hangars have been used to house thousands of refugees at a time. Photo: Ashley Gilbertson

In October 2016, the Australian photographer and writer Ashley Gilbertson visited Williams for a two-day Gaudino-sponsored residency. Gilbertson is a deeply thoughtful photographer and writer known for his images of the Iraq war and the effects of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on returning veterans and their families. A frequent contributor to The New York Times and a collaborator with the United Nations, Gilbertson’s current work focuses on the human costs of the refugee crisis.

Gilbertson gave a powerful public lecture titled “Uncertain Journeys: Images of Refugee Crisis,” and visited 56 students in three classes: Modern Middle East, Violence in/of Art, and Intermediate German; he had meals with 22 students from these classes as well as a Political Science course on Refugees in the International System.

Two of Gilbertson’s recent NY Times photo essays on refugees—from the Middle East, as well as regions of the Balkans and Africa—on their way into and through Europe reveal the power and poignancy of his images, along with unexpected moments of joy and relief. An Atlantic article depicting Gilbertson’s struggle with PTS after years of photographing people in war zones is here.