Traces of Exile at C/O Berlin

My Traces of Exile video installation is on exhibition at the C/O Berlin Foundation in Germany as part of the group exhibition SEND ME AN IMAGE – From Postcards to Social Media.

Open from 29 May to 2 September, 2021

C/O Berlin Foundation
Amerika Haus
Hardenbergstraße 22–24
10623 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 2844416 62

About Traces of Exile:

For the first time in its history, Europe experienced a refugee crisis where most of the individuals involved were connected to the internet. In 2015, over 1.3 million people fled to Europe from crises in the Middle East and North Africa. They carried smartphones to help them navigate through unknown territory and to communicate with loved ones left behind.

Some of them chose to document moments of their lives in exile and to publicly post their images on social media. Often, they geo-tagged their posts to the specific locations where they passed, leaving behind a digital trail of memories.

When I first viewed these posts, I immediately noticed a gap between how migrants portray themselves and how they are
portrayed in the media. Western narratives about the newcomers is fraught with politics, and news organisations tend to visually categorise migrants either as victims or threats. In contrast, the images the exiles post of themselves tend to be intimate, playful, and occasionally even flirtatious. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of those who arrived in Europe in 2015 are men between the ages of 18 and 34. They express themselves with the same visual codes as other millennials. Though divided by borders and conflict, they are united with their generation across the globe by the unique photographic aesthetic of this historical moment.

In 2016, inspired by an Augmented Reality app that can see Instagram posts linked to a specific place, I followed this trail of digital traces through Europe, capturing landscapes of exile overlaid with the Instagram photos the refugees posted in the same place. The result is a series of snapshots of the refugee crisis in Europe, capturing the intersections of reality and online identities.


About SEND ME AN IMAGE – From Postcards to Social Media:

Photography has always been a social medium that has been shared with others. But why do people communicate with each other using images? And how do the “virtual distillates” of photographs change society? The thematic exhibition Send me an Image, From Postcards to Social Media outlines the development of photography from a means of communication in the nineteenth century to its current digital representation online. The focus is on the dialogue between historical forms of traveling images from photography over the past 150 years and contemporary artists from the 1970s onwards who work with both traditional and modern photographic techniques, uses, and means of communication.

The exhibition considers the transformation of photography from an illustrative medium to one of society’s most significant means of communicating today. At the same time, the works shown illuminate phenomena such as censorship, surveillance, and the algorithmic regulation that affect many activities in a data-driven era. Today, images shared via social media not only spread rapidly but can also take on an independent newsworthiness and as “pure” messages can even spark different kinds of protests. The social dimensions of image communication is a second area of focus in Send me an Image – From Postcards to Social Media at C/O Berlin, curated by Felix Hoffmann and Dr. Kathrin Schönegg.

Participating artists:

ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin with Der Greif, David Campany & Anastasia Samoylova, Fredi Casco, Moyra Davey, Themistokles von Eckenbrecher, Martin Fengel & Jörg Koopmann, Stuart Franklin, Gilbert & George, Dieter Hacker, Tomas van Houtryve, Philippe Kahn, On Kawara, Erik Kessels, Marc Lee, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Mike Mandel, Theresa Martinat, Eva & Franco Mattes, Jonas Meyer & Christin Müller, Peter Miller, Romain Roucoules, Thomas Ruff, Taryn Simon & Aaron Swartz, Andreas Slominski, Clare Strand, Corinne Vionnet.

Exhibition catalogue available from Steidl publishing.

More info.