Sunday, 9 April 2017

A TRIBUTE TO REFUGEES AT LIGHT CITY BALTIMORE: INTERVIEW WITH VISUAL ARTIST ALAA MINAWI










"When people are forced to leave their country they don't only lose their schools, toys and cars," he says. "They drop their skin, organs and memories. They transform into outlines of human beings."






(CNN)For Palestinian artist Alaa Minawi, six neon tubes are all it takes to deliver a powerful reminder
 of Europe's refugee crisis.
"When people are forced to leave their country they don't only lose their schools, toys and cars," 
he says. "They drop their skin, organs and memories. They transform into outlines of human beings."
    Minawi, who lives in Lebanon, spent three years working as a translator for Syrian refugees who were 
    applying for asylum in the United States.
    "I heard almost 1,000 stories," he says. "Most of them were traumatizing. For them, this interview 
    is life-changing. It's like the last rope you throw to a drowned person. My own perception of life changed 
    after these interviews. You appreciate life differently, you see how these people want a future, 
    how they are craving it. I felt I had to create something related to what I heard."
    RELATED: Artist William Kentridge's incredible refugee premonition
    http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/14/arts/william-kentridge-refugee-crisis/
    The resulting sculpture, called "My light is your light", is a set of custom-made white neon lights that
    "look like extremely fragile human bones". For Minawi, the entire piece is a stripped down version of
     one particular family in Lebanon whose story affected him deeply.
    "They're crossing the border," Minawi says. "The father is in front watching out for the family. 
    The grandfather trails behind him, bent over and exhausted. The mother is walking forward but looking down. 
    The teenager has been left behind. He's just as traumatized as everyone else, but they don't notice. 
    There's also an aunt and a little child."
    A message of hope for refugees
    According to Minawi, the installation has a message not only for Europeans, but also for refugees themselves.
    "I want to tell them that you shine light and you can move on," he says. 
    "There are five statues whose heads are all down. Except for the little kid."
    Unlike the older figures, the smallest child in the sculpture looks straight ahead, 
    and was intended as a symbol of hope and resilience.

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