About Displaced Bodies and Hearts
The digital art exhibition Displaced Bodies and Hearts has been developed as part of the RESPOND project and curated by Dr Naures Atto (University of Cambridge).
Participating artists in alphabetical order:
Agnes Ishak, Ammar Salim, Aziz Elias, Diala Brisly, Fouad Roham, Ismail Noah, Issa Touma, Jason Noah, Jelbert Karami, Nadia Bashar, Narin Ezidi Ismail, Nashwan Alhadaay, Ninos Thabet, Saddiq Khidhir, Salam Noah, Qasim Alsharqy and Yacob Ibrahim.
This exhibition showcases the artwork of refugee artists who have been forcibly displaced due to violence and wars in their home countries. Whether still in their home country internally displaced, in a transit country or already settled in a host society, artists participating in the exhibition Displaced Bodies and Hearts have produced artwork that tells us the stories of their inner experiences and that of their peoples’ suffering, trauma, resilience and hope. Each artwork invites us to listen to these human stories. Like the artists themselves, their artwork is displayed in a digital format, in order to allow accessibility and mobility to different places, communicating with new contexts and developing new discourses about the future to come.
The main collection of this exhibition, presented on the front page is organised around four themes: destruction of live, escape and separation, liminal lives, and living with the past; all these themes are central to migration and forced displacement.
Destruction of live
Migration stories are sewed with pain and sorrow. People have witnessed the destruction of their families, their houses, schools, their cities and their lives. Migration is destruction! By leaving everything behind in what people call their ‘home’ they have to separate themselves from all that they loved and start all over again elsewhere. A new life in an unknown space and time cannot be built without the unbearable existence of this destruction, which is also a common theme in the selected artists’ artwork.
Escape and separation
Migration is separation – often an involuntary human action. People have been torn between saving their lives and that of their dependents or to stay and defend what belongs to them with the risk of losing their lives and that of their loved ones. Fleeing and leaving everything behind causes a deep rupture in people’s psychology with long-term consequences.
Migration stories include a journey, which is oftentimes not a voluntary road trip story. People escape, run for their lives to find a shelter, cross borders and all boundaries until they find a place to settle down and make a home in unknown horizons.
“I am like a soldier caught between crossing a minefield or being a prisoner of war. One must choose. This is the point of no return; I can’t turn back.” (Behrouz Boochani)
Migration causes a rupture in the old status-quo; people live liminal lives between the moment they leave their home and the moment they settle in a country where they can start building a new life. Most people who have to leave their home have to spent months or sometimes years in temporary housing or camps, where new children are born, where people are lost and where many young also take their lives because life becomes unbearable for them. Even after settling in a host country, people may not always manage to find their way in society, struggling to connect and/or continue to live with the scars of the past.
Living with the past
Living in the past, with the past – people are survivors and bear their history with them; both the happy moments that allow them to continue but also the scars of difficult experiences. The participating artists in this exhibition have expressed both of these aspects in their art, though their witness of difficult experiences takes a much bigger space, indicating how the past is haunting the present.