RE-Build Refuge Europe - reclaiming Europe as a place of sanctuary for refugees
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What is the role that art can play in social and political change? Re-Build Refuge Europe uses art and culture to allow European citizens and refugees to learn from each other as equals. Its starting point is that migrants are themselves carriers of culture.
The Athens Biennale, in the spring of 2017, was an early showcase for the project's work.
An exhibition of film, video, text, photography, painting and installations took as its theme the concept that only migrants themselves can accurately narrate their experience, and that these narratives give Europeans a chance to learn.
The exhibition was based on workshops in refugee camps in early 2017, when artists from Syria, Greece and Germany lived and worked among those fleeing their past and hoping for a better future.
Alongside, another Re-Build exhibition featured the work of Turkish artist and writer Pınar Öğrenci, and the photographer Issa Touma from Aleppo.
These artists are two of the first residents in the Artists at Risk programme that links the arts with human rights, and that maps persecuted practitioners of visual art, theatre and film. The exhibition and the associated discussions addressed questions such as the long periods of waiting that refugees often face, perceptions of refugees and their perceptions of their host communities, rights to water, and how to tackle fear of the unknown.
"Rather than as asylum seekers or refugees, we welcome Artists at Risk residents as honoured visiting art professionals. We offer a breathing space, and a chance for artists to re-orient their professional lives."
The first episode of a new political talk show, Talk Real-Art Real, also developed as part of Re-Build, examined some of the local experiences in making Athens a safe and welcoming place, and explored how art and artists are changing perspectives on migration.
"Athens was chosen for this launch because it encapsulates some of the economic, political, social, and cultural dilemmas that Europe faces".
Further results of the Re-build project were exhibited and performed during the Transeuropa Festival, which animated Madrid in October 2017 with debates and conferences on the responsibilities of political, cultural and artistic institutions in Europe.