Human Refugees

In 2015 the so-called “refugee crisis” hit Denmark. The media invaded our lives with a lot of images of desperate people escaping from their countries, images of boats full of people who were fleeing war, persecution, and famine. At the same time the political discussion was focused on how to face this situation, how to manage the asylum seekers coming to Denmark, and which measures to take in order to limit the number of people who reach Denmark.

In this complex and multi-layered situation, the Immigration Museum commissioned me to develop a project which would present refugees as who they are: human beings with difficult personal stories. The project collected 16 stories from informants who fled from Syria, Somalia and Eritrea, and this exhibition conveys their stories in a visual way. It seeks to guide the audience through a journey with the informants, while giving space for reflection and for formulating questions.

In the long interviews presented in the book, the informants tell the stories of their lives in their home countries, talk about how they escaped, which challenges they encountered on their dangerous journeys, and also share their hopes and dreams for the future. The research considers their journeys as a liminal phase, a shift − a physical one, but also and more importantly one of identity.

The project has been exhibited at the Immigration Museum in Farum from 3 May to 10 October 2015, and at the SAXO Institute at Copenhagen University from 25 November 2015 to February 2016, and selections from it on Byens Hegn in Nørrebro, Copenhagen from 3 December 2015 to May 2016. The exhibition is composed of: a portrait of each informant; a picture of an object that was carried throughout their journey, and which represents part of the informant’s identity; a map, which was drawn by the informant; and a few quotes to help the audience better understand each informant’s story. In some cases photos taken during the informants' journeys are also included.