DISPLACEMENT // critical reflection

For 13 weeks I have progressed in creating a media artwork that deals with the notion of ‘Futures’. A critical understanding of theory, practice and research was laid as a foundation to which our ideas would then be built upon. I find that my works become more valuable when I use myself and things that affect me as a filter – in continuing this momentum I decided to touch on the issue of refugees through the eyes of higher powers and societies rather than the directly impacted population.

My work began as an investigation and drawing of binaries between my visions and the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul titled Fireworks (Archives)

He describes this work as a ‘hallucinatory memory machine’ – examining the past of his nation of Thailand, its historical dictators, the change in culture and ultimately himself. He tells the story of his land and his ancestors who occupied it. Similarly, my work does the same, but focuses more-so on the present, and sparks where the issues regarding asylum are going. In doing so, a more of a political stance needed to be taken in order to move forward in terms of change and momentum – this work encourages a different train of thought about the issue at hand, and to highlight to the responder that this is what is happening in the world. This alternation between the refugee debate as responsibility-sharing and burden-sharing has really resonated with me personally and needed to be another focal point in my artwork.

Figures from the UN state that the number of refugees has reached an all-time high at almost 66 million people – where every three seconds someone in the world is displaced due to war, violence or persecution. This is what initially commenced my intrigue into what is happening but never clearly showcased to we as a society. The complexity, scale, and global scope of movements by asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants today highlight the need for international cooperation more starkly than at any point in recent history. After the first iteration my work lost momentum through creative depiction. Because I was dealing with something with so many facets I wanted to ensure that these facets were all illustrated effectively. I did not know how to convey my findings and story while at the same time escaping the dreariness of just predominantly text-based content on top of the drum. After each early iteration, it still was not hitting the mark, travelling down avenues that were not so different.

“The medium is the message” – McLuhan 1964

McLuhan expresses how the medium itself is just as, if not more important than the message itself. I was able to channel the materials I was utilising and the skills I have in storytelling to compose a projection that encompasses a vital text for asylum seekers and a creative demonstration on how governments and societies interpret the influx of the affected.

I am happy with the result of my work and through its progression each element seamlessly meshes into one another in a way that is cohesive and thought-instigating. The question that I aimed to address throughout the whole session are visible through interpretation – it deals with an issue that some take for granted: freedom and asylum. The growing momentum of refugees is growing immensely and this work tackles this notion through a different filter, one that not many people pay close attention to through the likes of media and ultimately ignorance. My work deals with and challenges the overarching questions that have always been underlying sight for the past 13 weeks:

  • What is determining our futures? Ours, our governments and refugees?
  • Through this context of dealing with human beings – what makes us human? 
  • What is the right thing to do? 
  • How can a way forward be paved from what is happening right now? 
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