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Seeking Refuge

Through the use of art, videos and images, Seeking Refuge explores the global refugee crisis from the perspectives of two young people. This exhibit will be on display in the Rights Today gallery until August 2018.

 

Abandoned lifejackets transformed into art installation

Seeking Refuge features an art installation by now 16-year old Achilleas Souras entitled Save Our Souls. Repurposing some of the thousands of life jackets abandoned on the beaches of the island of Lesbos, Greece, by refugees and migrants, Souras has created a modular shelter to raise awareness of the crisis. Two videos bring Souras’ installation to life. One video presents the perspective of the artist, while the other features the point of view of a young Syrian refugee who reached the shores of Lesbos after a perilous sea crossing from Turkey. 

 

Youth perspectives

The exhibit brings together the experiences and perspectives of two teenage boys. Souras is a young artist living in Barcelona, Spain, with a passion for design and architecture. Souras felt compelled to act in response to the refugee crisis. He worked with his school to collect 400 lifejackets abandoned on the island of Lesbos. He used some of these to create his art installation and the school used the remainder to raise funds for refugees. Mustafa Al Said is a young Syrian refugee from the city of Aleppo who fled war at the age of 13 years old. Al Said shared his fears and hope for a better future with a UNICEF (https://www.unicef.org) film crew when he arrived in Lesbos with his mother and brother. They sought refuge in Germany where he now attends school.

 

A teenage boy stands in front of tents in a parking lot at night.

Mustafa Al Said standing in a makeshift refugee camp, Greece, 2015. (Photograph by UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2501/Romenzi)

 

A global human rights issue

The refugee crisis is a critical global human rights issue today. More than 65 million people are currently displaced by conflict or persecution. Children like Al Said who are uprooted by conflict undertake long treacherous journeys, often sleeping without shelter and experiencing the trauma of being separated from their family.

 

A teenage boy installs lifejackets onto a dome-like structure.

Achilleas Souras creating his art installation, Spain, 2016. (Photograph by Luis Calau)

 

Sparking a dialogue

Installations like Save Our Souls contribute to reflection and dialogue about the refugee crisis. This installation is particularly interesting because it stems from, and invites, youth engagement. Souras was witnessing the refugee crisis, like many do, through media coverage. But he drew from his passion, at only 15 years of age, to make a statement about our responsibilities in the face of this crisis.