PJ Harvey goes on another trip of enlightenment, this time pointing her spotlight on Lebanon and the humanitarian crisis facing the historically war-torn country as it struggles to cope with thousands of refugees fleeing the ongoing atrocities wrought upon them in the name of oil.
She teams up with Egyptian artist Ramy Essam, whose song Irhal became synonymous with the demonstrations at Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Egyptian revolution of 2011.
The video uses images from the forthcoming book by acclaimed photojournalist Giles Duley, I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See, and its message of despair – descriptions of “children who move like ghosts” and a “grey boy burned by cigarettes, pushed with scarred hands through the fence” – documents the lives of displaced children in the Bekaa valley in Lebanon.
“It is hard to comprehend the scale of the crisis in Lebanon, a country of four million now hosting more than one million Syrian refugees,” explains Duley. He has documented humanitarian crises and the effects of conflict for more than a decade and was moved significantly by what he witnessed throughout Europe in 2016 and 2017.
“Starting from Lesbos and following the refugees’ route through the Balkans to Germany, the images in this video follow the desperate journey of everyday people forced to flee their homes in the face of conflict. For several years, Polly [PJ Harvey] and I have been looking to collaborate on a project, so when she and Ramy recorded The Camp it seemed like the perfect opportunity,” he said.
“I believe this is an important moment in the history of a humanity, a time when we must all decide: do we turn our back or open our arms and offer safety? It’s a time when we must all act,” Duley said.
Essam added: “I believe that people, no matter who they are and where they come from, can have their freedom and live together in peace.”