Thu 21/12/2023 - 09:28

1, 2, 3... and click! That's how quickly the photo was taken. The people then only had to wait a few minutes for their large black and white photo to be printed out from the side of the truck. Many posed proudly with their portrait for a private souvenir photo and then handed it over to the Inside Out staff.

The Inside Out Project's mobile photobooth above the Mur de la Treille in Geneva attracted a lot of attention and numerous passers-by. Current members of Geneva's Administrative and State Councils and current Mayor of Geneva Alfonso Gomez took the opportunity to sit in front of the camera. At times, a long queue formed in front of the truck, but participants were all enthusiastic about the project and spent their time waiting by chatting with each other. The portraits were finally pasted to the Mur de la Treille, an iconic historical wall built around the old town of Geneva - more than 200 were taken after  three days in which the mobile photo booth was in operation. Laughing or astonished faces from children to senior citizens, faces with hats, turbans, headscarves and glasses, with long hair, wild hair or no hair at all, some had their portrait taken posing with their babies or proudly holding their passports to document their own story.

This Inside Out Action took place during the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in Geneva - the GRF was held in the city’s suburbs, at Palexpo. Taking place every four years, it aims at finding  solutions for refugees and countries hosting them. More than 4,000 people attended this year, including many world leaders, politicians and refugee delegates from around the world. Switzerland for UNHCR wanted to bring this forum also to Geneva’s population. "We wanted to bring the GRF a little closer to the center and closer to the people," explains Executive Director Cristina Davies. "They should also be able to get involved in the conversation about refugees and forcibly displaced people." The Inside Out Project, initiated by French artist JR in 2011, provided a suitable framework for this. By having their portrait taken, people could show their support and draw attention to what is important to them - in this case the fate of 114 million people forced to flee worldwide. This way, they were able to show solidarity with displaced people and as the title of this action stated give them “hope away from home”. The art project has already been carried out in more than 150 countries, and around half a million people worldwide have had their portraits taken, thus making a statement. Switzerland for UNHCR once again participated in JR’s Inside Out Project, but this time during the GRF. Indeed it was not the first time that the mobile photo booth visited Switzerland for UNHCR. It was also operating in front of UNHCR headquarters in Geneva during the last World Refugee Day celebrations, on June 20, 2023. With the help of the City of Geneva, it soon became clear which location would be best suited for displaying the photos: "The historic Mur de la Treille, which fits the theme perfectly in terms of its symbolism. For centuries, these walls offered protection to those who had been persecuted around Europe," Cristina Davies continues.

We would like to thank everyone who visited us and the Inside Out team at the photobooth truck and for using their portraits to promote solidarity with refugees!