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The Refugee Hotel

Print is still a vibrant medium these days (or so we’ve noticed), but to remain so it needs to take advantage of the very forces that threaten it. Or force. Or, really, the Internet. And, as the ongoing The Refugee Hotel Book Project demonstrates, it can really be quite easy.

The Refugee Hotel is a hauntingly beautiful photo project by the photojournalist Gabriele Stabile. Three years ago, she started photographing refugees on the first night of their stay in the US. These images were taken in the drab, uniform airport hotel rooms refugees were lodged in after leaving immigration, liminal spaces that parallel their precarious statuses as persons that no longer and don’t quite belong. Stabile’s photos focus on the tired and worried faces of parents unsure of the future, but also on the antic boredom of children along for the ride.

Now, Stabile and journalist Juliet Linderman are returning to the original subjects of the series, traveling across the US to see “how they’ve rebuilt their lives and communities on American soil.” These stories, to be told through images and words, will be published by one of our favorites, McSweeney’s. But to make the project happen, Stabile and Linderman needed more than what grants and the publisher could give, and so they started a Kickstarter account to raise the money. And, within a couple of weeks, they reached their goal.

This is a case where the ingenuity and inventiveness engendered by the Internet has really enabled something amazing. It’s doubtful that Kickstarter works every time – some projects get funded and come to nothing, while others don’t and never have the chance. But knowing that Stabile and Linderman will be able to travel across the US and make these vists, and that the fruit of this labor will be published in a physical book and not just in a series of  blog posts (though there as well), is inspiring.

Photography by Grabriele Stabile