Seeking Refuge (Level 5 - Rights Today)

How two teenagers are taking action to make the world aware of the refugee crisis.

August 2017 to November 2018

This exhibition has passed.

A teenage boy holds a life jacket in his hands while he stands behind a dome-like structure made of lifejackets. Partially obscured.

Photo: Joao Gaudenzi

Exhibition details

Combining art, videos and imagery, Seeking Refuge explores the global refugee crisis through the lens of two teenage boys.

One comes from the perspective of 16‐year‐old artist Achilleas Souras, who used discarded life jackets collected from Greece’s shores to create a powerful art installation called Save Our Souls. The second explores the journey of Mustafa Al Said, a young Syrian refugee from the city of Aleppo who fled war at the age of 13. Both stories come together to bring awareness and hope to the ongoing refugee crisis.

On the shores of Lesbos.

When he was just 15, Achilleas Souras felt compelled to act in response to the refugee crisis. Working with his school, he collected 400 lifejackets abandoned from the Greek island of Lesbos (a landing place for thousands of people seeking refuge in Europe) to create a dome‐like structure in his art installation SOS Save Our Souls.

A teenage boy installs lifejackets onto a dome-like structure.
Photo: Luis Calau

Achilleas Souras creating his art installation, Spain, 2016.

Photo: Luis Calau

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.

Living in Barcelona, Spain, the now 16‐year‐old artist Souras continues to create the modular shelters to help raise awareness of the growing crisis.

The refugee crisis through the eyes of a 13-year-old.

At the age of 13, Mustafa Al Said fled the war‐torn city of Aleppo as a Syrian refugee with his brother and mother. After arriving in Lesbos, Al Said shared his journey, along with his fears and hope for a better future with a UNICEF film crew.

Today, the refugee crisis remains a critical global human rights issue. 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.

Sparking dialogue, no matter the age.

Installations like Save Our Souls and stories like Al Said’s contribute to reflection and dialogue about the refugee crisis. Seeking Refuge stems from, and invites, youth engagement. Like many others, Souras had witnessed the refugee crisis 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 crisis. Al Said lived through this incredibly tragic experience himself, and found the courage to share it with the world.

A teenage boy stands in front of tents in a parking lot at night.
Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2501/Romenzi

Mustafa Al Said standing in a makeshift refugee camp, Greece, 2015.

Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2501/Romenzi

Seeking Refuge is featured in the Level 5 Rights Today gallery from August 2017 to August 2018. Visit the Museum to see the full exhibition.