These images are stills from ElShelleh (The Guys) a cross-platform narrative piece following four Iraqi refugees, all friends, as they search for direction and purpose in their new home, El Cajon, California. Photographs, voices and music work together to intimately reveal the personal histories and current struggles of Ahmed Hamed, Jack Salem, Saad “Tommy” Tomaye and Fadi Aziz.
When not working in their dead-end jobs, the guys get together to cook, to play music and to sustain each other as they try their best to find a way to move forward in a country that regards them with suspicion, fear, pity and resentment. The soundtrack has been edited from extensive interviews and recordings of music and ambient sounds. I created this piece to stand with the photographs so that viewers could hear their voices and music directly tell their stories.