The art department was asked to participate in La Chat’s “refugee crisis week”. The year 12 IB class was given the task of creating several installation pieces around school that would be immersed in students’ every day life. Two of the projects they designed were Obstacle and The Deconstructed Fence. We have published the rationals for these two pieces here.
The metal fences lining the borders are only one of the obstacles standing in the way of those fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflict ridden countries. In the most basic explanation, this piece was created in the hope of impeding La Chat students’ path to draw awareness to the difficulties and dangers of the journey refugees chose to take over staying home –and thus emphasizing just how dire the situations are there.
However this installation is only in part representing the physical obstructions; doting the fences are scraps of cloth, maps, flags and more personal items. These are what illustrate the lives and more importantly, the lost lives, of the refugees who are truly people with stories and families like you and me. The teddy bears are reminders that children are being forced into the quarrels of adults and as a consequence losing their innocence too soon. This piece has been left outside, in the cold and in the rain allowing the clothes to soak and the paper to disintegrate. This seemingly inattentive decision was made to underscore that the lives and belongings of the refugees are slowly being destroyed by having no shelter, here and at home.
The Deconstructed Fence:
This piece of installation art symbolises both the metaphorical barrier that Western civilisations are setting up between themselves and the thousands of incoming refugees, and the physical fences being built along the borders of countries such as Slovenia, Serbia and Hungary. It represents the divisions and fundamental lack of understanding that exist between the cultures of the refugees and that of the societies they are flooding into, things that must be dealt with and diminished if harmonious collaboration and coexistence are to be achieved. The differences and ignorance-induced feelings of hostility being gradually stripped away was one of our reasons for giving the fence an unfinished nature: the barriers between us and the refugees are gradually being taken down.
Another reason we had for leaving the fence as a half-formed construction was to expose the fact that not everyone is opposing the entrance of these refugees. Hundreds of thousands of people are welcoming them with open arms, generously supplying them with food, shelter and resources necessary for their survival. We didn’t want to portray Europe through a purely pessimistic lens, therefore we left gaps in the fence.