Step into the Footsteps of Syrian Refugees
In the last three years, 120,000 migrants and political asylum seekers have entered Greece with more than 40,000 of them arriving through the Greece-Turkey border at the river Evros. In this new exhibition, Altered Landscapes, Spanish artist Juan delGado (b. 1965) follows their journey, submerging himself in their world and bringing the experience to Watermans in a multimedia exhibition.
For this exhibition delGado travelled to Greece to film, photograph and record the journeys taken by the refugees. delGado has not filmed these ‘invisible’ people, who proliferate our media, but the places they have passed through. There are traces of their existence, fragmented experiences, fleeting moments and marks left on the land as they pass through to find safety.
Step inside the journeys they have made and places they have passed through in this immersive experience, comprising video, photography and soundscape. The exhibition is also an intimate account of what the foreign wanderer experiences and reflects the themes of physical movement and journey, the intimate and personal experience of walking through an unfamiliar landscape reminiscent of the experience of refugees.
The installation invites the viewer to navigate the different elements of the artwork in the space, to pause and reflect on the experiences and journeys of the refugees, inviting people to speak about things they are afraid of.
The project is a reflection and response to the current situation in Europe - that has become a place full of borders.
Inspired by the text The Metamorphosis by Czech writer Franz Kafka, the project centres on a personal diary from a narrator, a European subject, who is describing how his human identity is gradually dissolving and transforming into something else, as a response to the suffering he is viewing.
These reflections are provoked by the events and debates of the last few years around the refugee crisis and are contextualised in a landscape which is strongly embedded in our collective imaginary, the Acropolis, the ancient citadel of Athens and the birthplace of the democratic values and culture.
By using still and moving images, the resulting artwork examines what social theorist and anthropologist Nicholas De Genova calls “the spectacles of militarised border control and securitisation in all aspects of travel and transit”, a reality that appears to be increasingly spreading across the European margins.
The exhibition (Friday 1 April – Sunday 29 May) will include a series of workshops led by Juan delGado and The Paper Project (Saturday 16 April – Saturday 14 May, info to be announced on Watermans’ website) as well as a symposium (Saturday 21 May) to discuss issues of displacement and migration, exploring how art can catalyse debate around human rights and create a dialogue around these issues, speakers include Michaela Crimmin (Culture + Conflict), Á ine O’Brien (Counterpoint Arts) and Saphia Crowther (Amnesty International).
The exhibition is accompanied by an audio description available through headphones, and screened with captions in regular intervals. BSL interpretation can be provided at the symposium on request.
March 22, 2016