Live the refugee life vi­car­i­ously at this ex­hi­bi­tion

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - City - - MY CITY - Henna Rakheja

It’s re­ported that war, vi­o­lence and per­se­cu­tion have forced more than 65 mil­lion peo­ple the world over to leave their homes. Over onethird of this pop­u­la­tion is refugee. To bring home the hard­ships of a refugee life, an on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion in the city, ti­tled Pas­sage to Asy­lum: The Jour­ney of a Mil­lion Refugees, fea­tures a se­ries of six con­tigu­ous in­stal­la­tions or rooms, de­pict­ing a refugee’s jour­ney from home to con­flict and an asy­lum.

The art show, or­gan­ised by Mi­gra­tion & Asy­lum Project, makes a vis­i­tor feel in­vited to ne­go­ti­ate a space that has been cre­ated through an in­ter­play of ob­jects and light in each room. In some places, the vis­i­tors are driven to nav­i­gate through the in­stal­la­tion just like how asy­lum-seek­ers are bound to nav­i­gate the per­ils of their jour­ney. In other sec­tions, vis­i­tors be­come part of the in­stal­la­tion as they ven­ture through it.

The struc­ture of in­stal­la­tions, as well as their or­der, and the ob­jects they con­tain, have been care­fully cho­sen to il­lus­trate the lived ex­pe­ri­ence of an asy­lum­seeker, lit­er­ally as well as through metaphor.

Artist Kalyani Ne­dun­gadi, who has con­cep­tu­alised the show, says, “I had al­ready been work­ing on dig­i­tal sto­ries that doc­u­ment the refugees and their in­ter­ac­tions with the le­gal bod­ies. Last Fe­bru­ary, we had dis­cus­sions to do a se­ries of six art in­stal­la­tions as a kind of im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. In Septem­ber, we started work­ing on them and cre­ated some­thing for peo­ple who are not used to speak­ing about this topic, so that they can come and walk through.”

There’s an au­dio guide in each room to help the vis­i­tors nav­i­gate. “A vis­i­tor can pick any four refugees pro­files in the form of cards at the be­gin­ning of each room. The ex­pe­ri­ences that refugees go through are var­ied, but the up­heaval is com­mon. And, all these are based on real cases,” adds Ne­dun­gadi.

The artist col­lab­o­rated with ar­chi­tect Maya Gupta to come up with these in­stal­la­tions and the two used the emo­tions of dis­tress as their pri­mary ref­er­ence. And, hav­ing crossed through the in­stal­la­tions, if you don’t go to the asy­lum, you will reach the ‘De­por­ta­tion cor­ri­dor’, which will def­i­nitely make you won­der the plight of a refugee.

Art in­stal­la­tions at the ex­hi­bi­tion de­pict a pas­sage from home to con­flict and an asy­lum

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