A new cultural and memory project on migration was launched on 20 June. The platform was designed to collect and exhibit paintings and illustrations – or “stories” – of refugee and migrant children who are now living in different countries of Europe.
“Colours of a Journey” was inspired by an exhibition organized by ARCI, displayed during the Sabir Festival of Cultures, 2016. The exhibition consisted of a series of paintings made by unaccompanied minors that survived the horrific shipwreck which happened close to Lampedusa island, 2014. The children told their stories through paintings in which they illustrated their past, their present and their future.
The project is facilitated by a group of researchers and activists working on migration and social inclusion practices and transform! europe, change4all, Euroculture Network - University of Groningen, ARCI, SOS Racism Portugal and is open to new synergies and partnerships.
Against the backdrop of growing political, economic and environmental insecurities, millions are forced to leave their lands and homes. Striving for safety and dignity, many of these people embark upon a dangerous and often life-threatening journey to Europe. Undoubtedly, the thousands of children among them are the most vulnerable ones.
Why did these people leave their homes? What does their life look like now? What kind of a future do they envision for themselves?
These questions should be answered by the newcomers themselves. The newcomers must be given space to voice their experiences and stories. This is the only way we can provide a strong alternative to the current politics of fear, restore conditions for solidarity and trust, and hereby fortify the foundation of our common life in Europe. Children, as the most fragile and sincere witnesses/makers of history, should come first.
Art is a medium that bridges linguistic and cultural barriers. Also, images are often better able to communicate complex experiences and emotions than words. Our primary objective is to create a digital platform (archive) – “Colours of a Journey” – that will host “stories” of refugee and migrant children. This platform is designed to collect and exhibit paintings and illustrations made by children between the ages of 6 to 18, and addresses all kinds of supportive structures (state, municipal, NGOs, grassroots etc.) that are willing to facilitate the production and collection of paintings done by children newcomers who are living in different countries of Europe.
The children will be asked to visualize and draw their past, present and future in workshops that are self-organized by participating structures locally. All works will be hosted on the platform and will be available for download and reproduction under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This will enable the organization of nomadic exhibitions that will travel around Europe in various social spaces and venues and “Colours of a Journey” will provide support in this respect.
During the pilot phase a first workshop was organized in the refugee camp of Hellinikon in Athens, Greece and a first nomadic exhibition was hosted in Groningen, Netherlands during two events. The first stop was a Syrian dinner organized by Amnesty International Groningen where the drawings where exhibited in a casual setting for an audience of one hundred people. The level of audience interaction with the drawings was intense, triggering discussions amongst guests and hosting refugees.
The second public appearance of the drawings was during the opening brunch of the Bevrijdings festival (The Liberation Day Festival). This event linked the contemporary issues of refugee children with the Dutch liberation from the Nazi occupation at the end of the Second World War, with the theme, “Geef vrijheid door” (Freedom is something you pass on).
The drawings were projected onto a large screen behind two music groups: The Syrian choir New Life, and the band Aapnootmies. While the drawings were screened, Euroculture students had the chance to engage with the audience, giving short explanations and encouraging them to visit the online gallery and engage with the project.
If you want to participate, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get your own access (username/password) with which you will be able to upload and manage your content. A time window of 48 hours is necessary for registration to be confirmed by curators.