Sunday, January 04, 2009

Migration

Red Dot Exhibitions
Contemporary Urban Centre, Greenland Street (12th December 2008 - 9th January 2009)

Red Dot have chosen migration as the theme for their latest group show. This proved to be a wise choice, for it produces an exhibition which gives a sense of the complex and almost contradictory nature of the subject. The timelessness and the transitory nature of the phenomenon are explored, alongside its universality, and yet the hatred and division often associated with it also gets a look in.

Artwork by migrants from many different areas (Romania, Afghanistan, Tibet) is displayed, plus creations from Red Dot regulars who - though born in this country - are of course descended from migrants somewhere down the line.

But the birds soar far above all this human confusion, making annual journeys around the world to find the most favourable conditions, and attracting no resentment from people who are used to passport control. Barbara Jones depicts this in her ‘Paper‘, with her hundreds of origami birds and boats.

Carl Fletcher and Ken Bullock’s ‘The Migration of Music’ celebrates music’s existence as a global language that crosses many barriers, with their collage of album covers in the shape of a boat crossing water.

Nicole Bartos’ ‘Linking Space to Channel Love and Warm Hearts’ is a reminded what migrants leave behind when forced to find a new home by poor conditions in their country of origin. Her collage of airmail letters - one mysteriously singed - exactly lives up to her description, and is a touching display of emotions we all share, but are often kept secret.

‘My Mother’s Mother’s Mother’ by Alice Lenkiewicz stretches back through history to her Polish great-grandmother, in a series of three mirrors decorated with floral designs and family photographs. Again here, the viewer experiences something that unites us all. The clothes and locations are different of course, but almost everyone has family photographs, and fond memories of relatives.

On the other side of things, a John O’Neill piece a shows the challenges awaiting more recent Polish arrivals to Britain. As three men stride out the back of a van, three more sit grim-faced on a wall that bears the words ‘Immigrant scum’ and ‘Polish out’. Clearly, the indigenous trio see the newcomers as rivals.

Migration has been around since bacteria evolved with flagella to propel themselves, but it is still a painful process in many respects. Red Dot’s exhibition has captured that.
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