Written By: Arianne Crainie
Tramway, 20/10-29/10/17, Open daily, 12-5pm. Free.
What will it take for people to recognise that refugees are equal and human? That they too are living, breathing individuals with homes, jobs and families? Correspondingly, how does the mainstream media feed into these ideas and who voices these narratives?
Share My Table’s* current exhibition, entitled ‘I Hear the Image Moving’, postulates these questions. From the 19th to the 21st of October, the exhibition came alive. As an organic collective of work, the exhibition was constituted of performance; sculpture; photography and other mediums. Although the performances have ended, components of the exhibition remain in Tramway, giving a voice to those who are too often left unheard.
The typical coverage of the ongoing humanitarian crisis tends to be degrading, inhospitable and frankly, inhumane. ‘I Hear the Image Moving’ challenges and critiques these forms of representation as it synthesises a range of stories told by a portion of the Glaswegian refugee community. Two of the works actively subvert the distortion of the national press by compiling newspaper headlines into their respective materials. One of these pieces is a long, cotton rectangle with giant letters stitched onto the fabric with the phrase, edged in red and green, stating “WHAT DO YOU SEE?” On closer inspection the body of letters are printed with newspaper clippings. These snippets not only pertain to articles on migration and refugees, but feature lighter headlines such as David Beckham’s next career move. Thus, the opposing end of the refugee representation spectrum is also addressed.
Undoubtedly, there is an over-abundance of warped media fright tactics but there remains something to be said about the portrayal of refugees as nothing more than their pain. This is well-intentioned yes, but still dehumanising as it reduces millions of people to a two-dimensional template. Of course, it remains crucial that the media acknowledges the plethora of atrocities which has lead to the refugee crisis, but wouldn’t it be best to let the people speak for themselves?
Ultimately, this is what I believe ‘I Hear the Image Moving’ is saying. It is a testament to the power of being able to tell your own story in your own words, free from convolution.
*Share My Table is a multi-art form project led by Tramway and the Scottish Refugee Council. The latter has a useful website for refugees, asylum seekers and allies. Alongside other online resources, this website will be posted below.