Imperial War Museum (IWM) London has launched a free thought-provoking exhibition about refugees
IWM London’s latest exhibition, Refugees: Forced to Flee (24 Sep-24 May 2021) shines a spotlight on the lives of refugees from WWI to the present day.
Through diaries, photos, video testimonials and artwork, the exhibition explores how people’s lives have been turned upside down by war over the past 100 years.
Adults share their childhood memories of Kindertransport, the organised mission which helped rescue mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied countries during WWII. You will also listen to stories by refugees from the Bosnian War, Syria and Afghanistan.
The exhibition delves into the reasons why people flee their homes. Moreover, it looks at how people decide which items to take with them, from a child’s doll to identification paperwork.
It also investigates refugees’ dangerous journeys to safety, which often involve crossing multiple borders.
In addition to this, the exhibition probes the challenges refugees face when re-settling in a new home. This might include racism, language barriers, being prevented from working or waiting years for a visa.
However, the exhibition balances the negatives somewhat with the kindness of strangers some refugees experience, from life-saving charity donations to a helping hand from a new neighbour.
Life in a Camp
One of the highlights is Life in a Camp. The footage was captured in February and September at the makeshift Moria camp on the Greek Island of Lesbos.
As the footage is projected onto three walls, it gives a close-up view of the refugees’ lives, making you feel as if you’re there, too.
The short film shows overcrowded conditions, a lack of supplies and boredom.
It also looks at the impact of a fire that ravaged the camp in September, leaving more than 12,000 people without shelter.
A Face to Open Doors
Another highlight is A Face to Open Doors.
The interactive piece of art resembles an immigration booth.
It’s set in a realistic future where international movement is policed by intelligent machines.
You’ll get the chance to sit inside the booth and meet a virtual border guard.
The guard asks you questions and monitors not just your answers, but your facial expressions and pupil size, too.
While the questions are somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the responses are eerie: ‘are you sad enough? More sadness please.’