Giovanna Del Sarto and Bern O’Donoghue
Regardless of what we may read in the news, migration and displacement have always been a part of human experience. Long before William the Conqueror landed on English shores, people undertook hazardous journeys in search of safety or fortune. Today, the world in 2016 is experiencing a modern crossing; a refugee crisis of such enormity it challenges not only those fleeing war and persecution, but also the rest of us living secure and peaceful lives.
As part of ROOT1066, Murmurations Gallery presents Another Crossing, an exhibition in which artists Giovanna Del Sarto and Bern O’Donoghue confront our sense of shared humanity and question the notion of ‘other’. Through installation, photographic display, visitor collaboration, workshop and talks, this thought provoking exhibition seeks to reconnect us to the human story within migration, asking how and why we must find a means of helping those in distress.
The work of documentary photographer Giovanna Del Sarto depicts points of transition in the lives of individual refugees. Embedded in refugee camps over the last year while volunteering with indigent charities, Giovanna's A Polaroid for a Refugee project, conveys images that anchor places, times and lives; looks to the past and the future; reminds us of things lost and of things yet to be gained. Her poignant Polaroids reflect the inner strength and dignity maintained by refugees during their long and harrowing journeys. For every Polaroid she takes, she gives one to the refugee as a reminder of the moment, and on the back is a simple statement:
"Where ever your destination may be - tell me when you feel you have reached a safe place."
This is an intention of hope, which sadly for some, may never occur.
In contrast, the work of Bern O’Donoghue’s looks at the power of words to shape or change perception. She presents Dead Reckoning and Refugees Crossing, ‘culture jamming’ projects that counter, remix and offer alternative representations of refugees and migrants. Since 2015, each time a refugee has died in the Mediterranean Sea attempting to reach the perceived safety of Europe, she has acknowledged their passing with a tiny origami boat marked with a relationship to another, a small dedication to someone’s son, daughter, neighbour or friend. Through an installation constructed of thousands of these fragile marbled paper reminders, Bern unpacks the statistics, asking the audience to consider the common ground we share with people who have lost their lives in the current crisis.
This September, visitors are invited to collaborate in Refugees Crossing, which explores how small creative acts might foster progressive change. In the last twelve months, over 8,000 fact filled paper boats have been place in public spaces across the UK, Europe and the USA by members of the public keen to counter myths and prejudice about migration, refugees and asylum in their local area. Images of the boats are shared on social media encouraging others to get involved.
Throughout the month, visitors attending the exhibition will find many ways to explore the issues surrounding migration; as well as this interactive installation, building a flotilla of boats offering messages of friendship and hope that we can share with refugees and asylum seekers in Sussex, you will be able to view Giovanna’s maps in the gallery, charting the work she undertakes as well as the routes and methods refugees employ in their struggle to find safety. On the afternoon of Saturday 17th September, Bern will run a drop in workshop (free) at the DLWP 2-, where you will learn how to marble paper before folding it into welcoming boats to launch in your local area. Please see the gallery website for details of our Symposium on Thursday 22nd September where we shall present a series of speakers including Giovanna Del Sarto, who will respond to the question “The global refugee crisis; what can and should our response be?” In the final week of the exhibition, there is an opportunity to hear Bern talk about her work at the DLWP. To book tickets (fee) go to the DLWP website and look for PechaKucha night, Tuesday 27th September.
Giovannna and Bern aim to raise both awareness and action through the work they do. All proceeds form the sale of the newspaper they have produced for the exhibition will go to CESRT
PV – Friday 2nd Sept 5.30-830pm Murmurations Gallery. Free.
Refugee Crossing Workshop – Saturday 17th Sept 2-4pm. DLWP Studio. Free.
Symposium – Thursday 22nd Sept 7.30-9.30pm Sackville Road Methodist Church, Bexhill. Free
PechKucha Bern O’Donoghue speaks about her work - Tuesday 27th Sept 7- 9.30pm DLWP Tickets via DLWP website.