'Passage to Asylum: The Journey of a Million Refugees', unique immersive art experience

Passage to Asylum: The Journey of a Million Refugees, unique immersive art experience

New Delhi: For those who are concerned about the plight of refugees as well as for those who are interested in impactful art-installations and experiences, "Passage to Asylum: The Journey of a Million Refugees" is a must-visit exhibition at the India International Center in New Delhi this week. The project was conceived by the Migration and Asylum Project (MAP), India's first and only dedicated centre for the study of refugee law and forced migration in India, and conceptualized/designed by Kalyani Nedungadi, MAP's Creative Consultant. War, violence and persecution have forced currently over 65 million people to leave their homes. Over a third of these are refugees. As this ongoing crisis begins to take centre stage across multiple global platforms, MAP feels it is important to give voice to a community that otherwise falls between the cracks of society.

This one-of-a-kind immersive art experience aims to introduce the wider public to the actual experience of asylum-seekers who are forced to flee from their home and find refuge in a foreign land. "Passage to Asylum" is a series of six contiguous installations – or 'Rooms' – symbolically depicting the refugee's journey, from home to conflict to asylum. As visitors walk through each room, they will be invited to negotiate a space that has been created through an interplay of objects and light. In some places, the visitors are driven to navigate through the installation just as an asylum-seeker must navigate the perils of their journey. In other sections, visitors will become part of the installation as they venture through it.

The structure of each installation, as well as their order and the objects they contain, has been carefully chosen to illustrate the lived experience of an asylum-seeker, literally as well as through metaphor. The rooms are designed to be viewed in accompaniment with an audio guide, which has been carefully curated to augment the atmosphere of each room. To further personalise the viewing experience, the designer has adopted an innovative, interactive format, whereby visitors can immerse themselves in an actual refugee's story. This is done in the form of refugee profile cards, which are picked up at the beginning of each room. The cards assemble to form the story of an asylum-seeker's journey. This makes the experience as authentic as possible, as the refugee profile cards are based on the testimonies of refugees with whom MAP has worked. This exhibition has been conceptualized and created by Kalyani Nedungadi and designed with Delhi-based architect, Maya Gupta. Inspiration for the rooms were drawn from both the accounts of real refugees, as well as a number of artists who deal with the subjects of chaos, upheaval, and art as a space – including Cornelia Parker, Ibrahim Mahama, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, and El Anatsui. Empathy begins with understanding. 'Passage to Asylum' seeks to offer the visitor a glimpse of what it might mean to be forced to leave everything behind; to be forced to build a life from rubble in an alien land. The exhibition is running at the India International Center, New Delhi from January 10th -15th, from 1100 hrs to 1900 hrs.

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