- a memorial for the lives lost in the forceful migrations
handmade paper, pine wood, resin
Installation dimension: 24 x 240 x 30 inches
Name is sacred.
One’s name is given by one’s parents. One’s name humanizes one’s identity. When deaths without names become the numbers in a news you hear, the respect to the dignity of lives is absent.
In the past year, we have been working with Dutch NGO UNITED for Intercultural Action (UNITED)* to create this piece based on the list they created and published by Guardian UK in June 2018, which records the deaths of migrants who attempted to enter EU from Africa, Middle east, and many other regions since 1993.
We took the names from the list and formed the names with the negative space of fragile handmade paper. This technique, called watermark, you read what is not there. As the lives are no longer there. If humanity is a one whole piece of paper, every letter of every name makes a hole on it.
The list indicates that eighty percent of deaths were caused by drowning in the sea during the deadly migration, which informs the creation of the installation: The pages are displayed in the shape of water wave. On the pages there are clear resin-castings of the pebbles collected on the shore of Mediterranean Sea and mailed to us by residents living in the area.
The back cover of the book will remain detached in this installation. We will continue to add more pages to the book as the list grows longer. We will put the back cover on and close this project when we as global citizens use our collective will and actions to end the humanity crisis.
“Bodies lie undocumented at the bottom of the Mediterranean; no one knows how many migrants have disappeared in the Sahara, which may even be as deadly as the sea for those who cross it.” - Guardian UK
When Geert the director of UNITED visited us in Minneapolis in July to discuss the project, he pointed out that the deaths documented in the list are only a small portion of the total deaths. And those with names are small portion of the entire list. We hope those names urge us to look at the extremely hard human condition beyond the numbers and calculations, the left and right, we and others.
As we all have names, and all names are sacred.
Special thanks to: Geert Ates, Bridget O'Malley, Amanda Degener, Perry Li
* UNITED for Intercultural Action
UNITED is the pan-European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees, supported by more than 550 organisations from 48 European countries.
The 'Fatal Policies of Fortress Europe' is an on-going campaign of the UNITED network against the deadly consequences of the building of Fortress Europe. Since 1993 UNITED has been monitoring the fatal results of the policies summarized as the building of Fortress Europe, compiled in the ‘UNITED List of Refugee Deaths'. In this list UNITED has been collecting reliable data on refugee deaths since 1993. In the period 1993-2018 at least 35.597 refugee deaths can be attributed to the 'Fatal Policies of Fortress Europe’. Thousands more are never found.