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Parallel Universes

A Rohinya refugee mother and child exodus from Myammar to Bangladesh. According to the UNHCR more than 720,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from Myanmar to cross the border and reach Bangladesh – Photo: K.M. Asad

It is probably one of the first thoughts that your conscience confronts you with when, as a child, you begin to see scenes around you so distant yet so belonging to your reality. Thoughts on how a person’s fate is so closely linked to their place of birth, and how this affects one’s ability to make choices going beyond the need to survive. How much suffering some faces can contain, how much strength and courage to leave behind the hell they come from and face the one they have achieved — one step away from death. They’re parallel universes that you would gladly do without, but which you will get used to over time, by just walking past without any question or answer.

A man, Uğur Gallenkuş, digital artist in Istanbul, Turkey, chose to show both universes — yours and theirs — by matching them, in order to make the paradox of their very existence on the same planet even more evident. His collages conscientiously address the widening global divide between the privileged and oppressed, weaving together misery and mirth, wealth and poverty and love and despair. In the spotlight, the victims par excellence, the children, hungry, dying, and abused. They might be not our children, but now it is not only the problem of the developing countries, it is just by our doorsteps too.

A wounded Syrian girl receives treatment at a make-shift hospital in Kafr Batna following bombardments on the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on February 21, 2018 – Photo: Ammar Suleiman (feat. Girl with a Pearl Earring)
A child flees the Moria refugee camp after fires completely destroyed the camp on September 9, 2020. Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes after a fire broke out in Moria camp destroying their homes and belongings – Photo: Afshin Ismaeli
Five-year-old Anas receives treatment at a make-shift hospital in Kafr Batna after he was wounded in a reported government air strike as he was playing outside his home on March 5, 2018 – Photo: Ammar Sulaiman (feat. Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh)

What started back in 2015 as a spontaneous reaction to the disturbing image of Aylan Kurdi — a three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed-up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea —eventually grew into an ongoing series of brutally honest work. The series by Gallenkuş takes an unflinching look at the highly polarized world we live in. Uğur is also a business-school graduate who was leading an ordinary life when tragedy struck in Syria.

“I would like to remind the residents of developed countries that people in underdeveloped countries live in pain, hunger, and war. I want to remind the people of underdeveloped countries that they deserve better government, education, or science, while assuring them that they have every right to be as strong and peaceful as those in developed countries.”

A Rohingya refugee woman hold her son seen after arriving with a boat to Bangladesh – Myanmar border nearest beach in Shah Porir Dip Island Teknaf, Bangladesh 14 September 2017 – Photo: KM Asad
Members of the Spanish NGO rescue Josepha, an African migrant from Cameroon, while the body of a woman lies on a piece of driftwood about 85 miles off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean sea on July 17, 2018 – Photo: Alessio Paduano
Smoke billows following a reported air strike by Syrian government forces in the rebel-held parts of the Jobar district, on the eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on August 9, 2017 – Photo: Ammar Sulaiman
A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas – Photo: John Moore
She is Rosina, 14 years old of a sex worker. She says, “I came from a broken family. I had never seen my parents together. My aunt took my guardianship while my mother and father refused to take me with them. My aunt was a paralyzed lady who could barely move from her bed. Soon I realized, I was there because they need someone as a maid girl.” – Photo: GMB Akash
South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places on June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim’s cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division – Photo: Nick Ut
A young boy is drinking dirty water due to a lack of water points in Kakamega in Kenya on March 14, 2018, which has occurred due to deforestation – Photo: Frederick Dharshie Wissah
Syrian refugee three-year-old Aylan lying dead in Bodrum, Turkey. He drowned on 2 September 2015 in the Mediterranean Sea along with his mother and brother – Photo: Nilüfer Demir
A Rohingya refugee son carry his mother walk through paddy field entered Bangladesh from Myanmar Rakhine state at Anjumanpara in Coxsbazar, Bangladesh – Photo: K.M. Asad
Naked detainees with bags over their heads placed into a human pyramid as Spc. Sabrina Harman, middle, and Cpl. Charles Graner Jr., above, pose behind them in late 2003 at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad
146 people rescued by MOAS (the Migrant Offshore Aid Station) on 24 November 2016 in the Mediterranean Sea – Photo: Giuseppe Carotenuto
A man holds a wounded Syrian baby at a makeshift clinic in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, on September 26, 2017 following reported air strikes by Syrian government forces – Photo: Abdullah Hammam
12 year old Kurshida holds her drawing at a CODEC and UNICEF “child friendly space” on September 21, 2017 in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – Photo: Allison Joyce
Syrian children run with balloons past heavily damaged buildings in the neighbourhood of Jobar, on the eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus on April 9, 2016 – Photo: Amer Almohibany

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