Film still from Refuge
Since the spring of 2016, I have been working on a set of paintings and three experimental films that address displacement of people from countries like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and other territories. The film Refuge was finished at the end of October 2016 and the second project, The Aleppo Room, was released in September 2017. The most recent short film, Rutland, is currently in production.
During my time in Germany in early 2016, I met with and interviewed refugees, non-profit organizations, activists and volunteers. These encounters were recorded in video and form parts of Refuge. Aside from meeting and talking to various people on both ends of the 'crisis,' I visited as many locations: understaffed offices, former parking lots that now housed containers for refugees, overcrowded living quarters, metropolitan areas, city centers & suburbs, and rural towns.
I decided that in addition to addressing the human component (and the role of portraiture painting), I must take the meaning of place into consideration. What does it mean to be forced out of your home and arrive in a place that is neither home nor homeland? Why are most refugee housing sites located on the outskirts of town? What effect do they have on the local community and the refugees? And any consideration of 'place' is incomplete without addressing the concept of landscape.