The Refugee and the Role of Art

The Refugee

Today, Europe and North America are sinking into crisis. Both continents are no longer able or want to accommodate millions of refugees because of its own internal conflicts. Immigration, refugees and racial issues are part of an important debate. People are creating deeper boundaries between them because of ethnicity, religion, cultures and beliefs. We constantly question our identity as a human race. To which group do we belong to and identify with? What if there’s none?

The focus is set on the journey from refugees’ persecutions in their home countries to camps. The hardest challenge is going through the process of being legally recognized as a political refugee or asylum seeker. This is the most mediatized part, ironically, creating a gap between our societies and the refugees. People turn a blind eye on the crisis because they feel disconnected from that reality. When in fact, there’s not really an us versus them. In case of persecutions or natural disasters, we would most probably do the same: to abandon our homes and risk our family’s and our own life to find a safer place to live no matter what could be the cost.

This crisis can be a daunting, disheartening, and confusing sequence of events to understand. People define themselves based on different factors, such as education, values, occupation, economic status, and religious affiliation. Having to flee the communities in which they were raised, refugees have to change many of these elements to acculturate into new societies. To turn from an individual with a recognised name, career, family ties and community connections, into the category of the “refugee” or the “immigrant” is unsettling. There’s a feeling of displacement, dissolution and non-belonging. After being uprooted, it is difficult to find that place of inclusion or acceptance.

The experience of being a refugee is one’s of invisibility, anonymity, lost of anchors, of home, of their identity, being unwanted, vulnerability and the hope or lost of hope. The reality of refugee camps is the removal of human basic rights.

The Role of Art

The insight and awareness created when viewers interact with the refugee experience in artistic spaces are important precisely because they have the power to shift political attitudes and preconceived mentalities, which are based solely on medias and stereotypes.

It shows the audience facets and aspects of the refugee’s experience in more than statistics and facts. To understand the crisis, the stories are crucial elements. It has the power to connect people in deeper levels than logic and reasons. Through art and people reaching out to refugees, they are no longer invisible or mere numbers or statistics.