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Asylum and refugee politics addressed in new exhibition in Copenhagen
Nermin Durakovic, Re-arranging, 2009/2015. Installation, c. 12 m2. Courtesy the artist (Photo: Juan Mahmoud).

COPENHAGEN.- A new exhibition series at Statens Museum for Kunst allows artists to present their takes on issues pertaining to refugees, asylum and migration. With these exhibitions the SMK wishes to prompt discussion and add greater nuance to the debate, says SMK director Mikkel Bogh.

The SMK focuses on refugees, borders, asylum seeking, displacement and migration this autumn, showing a three-part exhibition curated by CAMP / Center for Art on Migration Politics. Migration Politics: Three CAMP exhibitions at the SMK takes a critical look at the current situation for refugees and migrants. Using film, photography, sculpture, drawings and installations, a range of artists from Denmark and abroad – most of them hailing from migrant or refugee backgrounds – offer their perspective on the situation.

The exhibitions include film works that explore the concept of borders as geographical and symbolic dividing lines. In the video installation Empire’s Borders 1 (2008–09), Chen Chieh-jen (Taiwan) shows how nations curb the freedom of movement of certain population groups with discriminatory visa regulations, The film shows Chinese women queuing at a Taiwanese border checkpoint, their suitcases propped on baggage trolleys, clasping their official papers as they recount their encounters with the customs and border protection officers.

A video work by the transnational network Welcome to Europe documents how the European border controls were penetrated by hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants along the Balkan route at the onset of the refugee crisis in the summer of 2015: they decided that they would no longer be stopped by walls, fences and guards. Other works take the refugee camp as their theme, portraying everyday life and how human lives are managed and administrated in asylum centres, refugee camps and detention centres.

Mikkel Bogh, director of the SMK, hopes that this exhibition can contribute new facets to the current discussions on refugees and migrants, presenting an artistic point of view that can add greater nuance and promote understanding of the situation and the human consequences of the politics adopted within the field.

“Today, more people are being displaced than ever before. Most of us follow these events via the media. In collaboration with CAMP we now give all SMK visitors and users the chance to see how artists from refugee and migrant backgrounds interpret this crisis. I hope that the exhibition series will challenge all of us at the SMK and our users, offering new perspectives on a matter that affects us all,” says Mikkel Bogh.

The exhibition re-establishes three exhibitions curated by the directors of CAMP, Frederikke Hansen and Tone Olaf Nielsen. The exhibitions were originally shown at the exhibition venue CAMP in the independent community centre Trampoline House in the Northwest district of Copenhagen as part of the centre’s two-year exhibition program ”Migrationspolitik/Migration Politics”. The three exhibitions now shown at the SMK are:

• Camp Life: Artistic reflections on the politics of refugee and migrant detention (2015)

• From the mountains to the valleys, from the deserts to the seas: journeys of historical uncertainty – a solo exhibition by Tiffany Chung (2015)

• The Dividing Line: Film and Performance About Border Control and Border Crossing (2015)

Concurrently with the three-in-one exhibition at the SMK, CAMP opens its fourth exhibition at the centre. Called Deportation Regime: Artistic responses to state practices and lived experience of forced removal, the exhibition explores the politics of forced removal. The exhibitions will be supplemented by a range of activities such as talks, guided tours, performances, meetings and discussions that address issues and experiences with migration, displacement and asylum. The events will take place at Trampoline House in Copenhagen. The programme is curated and compiled by CAMP in collaboration with the SMK.

Migration Politics: Three CAMP exhibitions at the SMK is on view from 10 September to 6 November 2016.

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