Refugee artists and memories of displacement: a visual semiotics analysis

Catalani, Anna (2019) Refugee artists and memories of displacement: a visual semiotics analysis. Visual Communication . ISSN 1470-3572

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This paper considers the ways in which refugee artists represent the experience of displacement, their cultural traditions and the longing for home through paintings and how, by doing so, they become the visual interpreters of the current refugee crisis. The starting point of this article is that little attention has been paid towards the visual narratives of artworks produced by refugee artists and shared on social media. Through the visual semiotics analysis of 150 images of paintings (exhibited on the Facebook page Syria.Art) and through a number of individual interviews with the artists themselves, the article identifies three emerging visual narratives. These are concerned primarily with reminiscences about people, places and cultural practices lost (or in danger of being lost) because of the forced journey and because of the displacement. Within this context, these visual discourses become part of an open repository, which mediates, re-organises and preserves memories, both personal and collective as a form of emotional survival and resilience. It is argued that these visual narratives and representations nurture empathy for the human condition of the refugees and universalise the migrant experience.

Keywords:Refugee crisis, Facebook, Memory, Cultural Traditions, Visual Semiotics, Visual Narratives, Online Repository
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Design)
ID Code:35831
Deposited On:02 May 2019 14:51

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