Addressing Our Human Crisis

The immigrant crisis in Europe continues to strain countries and resources. A few countries have responded by closing their borders or implementing laws making it difficult or impossible for refugees to live in safety. There are many debates and issues regarding refugees such as the safety and/or resources of the host country and how much they can help, the opportunities for improvement and life beyond the refugee camp, nationalism and xenophobia. Regardless of the different views held about what a refugee is, was, or can be, it is important to remember that each individual refugee is a person with a story and a life, who’s fate shouldn’t be decided by the place they were born.

Renowned artist Ai Weiwei has recently done a string of installations addressing the difficulties that refugees face, all with the sculptural use of life jackets.

The journey from Turkey to Greece is well known and documented, and the human struggle of the journey is widely reported on. But to emphasize further the perils each refugee faces, Ai Weiwei collects used life jackets from the beaches on the island of Lesbos and creates eye-catching, and thought-provoking art across Europe.

His most recent piece, “Soleil Levant”, is an installation involving 3500 life jackets packed into the windows of Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Copenhagen. The density of the life jackets block visual connections into or out from the building, changing the experience of the street and forcing people to acknowledge the bright orange collection.

The refugee crisis is not going away, and having small reminders that refugees are people along the streets of Europe is a good way to continue the conversation around the people effected by it.

Check out more on “Soleil Levant”, the Berlin Konzerthaus, and “F Lotus”.

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