In 2017, Cyrus co-founded MIGRATE, a book and exhibition presenting new photography exploring global migration by eight international photographers: Alice Aedy • Cyrus Mahboubian • Ellie Kealey • Jack Harries • Tom Skipp • Rhiannon Adam • Vassilis Mathioudakis • Wolf James.
Recognising that in London one is largely detached from the ongoing refugee crisis, despite its staggering scale, MIGRATE was conceived in the hope of raising awareness among fellow Londoners. The only rule was that the participating photographers had to use instant analogue film, which was donated by film manufacturers the Impossible Project [now rebranded Polaroid Originals]. Unlike digital images, instant photos are physical and develop in the moment, which makes the photographer’s interaction with the subject more personal, while their small scale requires viewers to stand close and engage with the content.
An exhibition took place at Omeara in London Bridge from 29 August to 2 September 2017, complemented by a panel discussion 'What's the point of photography and film in the refugee crisis?' on 31 August.
In 2018, MIGRATE toured to the University of Oxford, with an exhibition of selected photographs at St Cross College from 15 to 25 February. The exhibition was complemented by a screening of BBC documentary 'Welcome to Germany' and Q&A with director Catrin Nye on 16 February.
From 18 to 23 June, the exhibition toured to the Lightbox Gallery, LCB Depot in Leicester as part of the official programme of Journeys Festival International 2018 produced by ArtReach. Cyrus participated in an artist talk at the gallery on 19 June.
The book is available online with all proceeds benefitting Unicef's Children of Syria Emergency Appeal.
MIGRATE has received extensive press coverage:
- The Guardian: Moments in migration: Polaroids from the refugee crisis
- BBC London: Refugee picture exhibition to open in London
- Global Citizen: These Beautiful Polaroids Are Casting a New Light on the Refugee Crisis
- Monocle 24 radio: 'Sunday Brunch' podcast interview [from 4:05]
- Huck: Capturing the real faces of the global migration crisis: Polaroid portraits
- Blouin Artinfo: London photo exhibition explores human migration