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Design Column #13 Migration Matters 2
9 July until 28 August 2016
Figures released by UNHCR, the refugee agency, reveal that there are almost sixty million people worldwide who are adrift. In a safe and secure Europe this can be hard to imagine. Under the banner of Design Column#13: Migration Matters 2, designers explore the refugee problem. Not so much to offer off the shelf solutions, the problem is too complex for that, but rather to visualize its seriousness and magnitude.
What can design mean in terms of understanding present-day conflicts? A lot, to go by the thirteenth edition of the Design Column, Migration Matters 2, which opens on Saturday 9 July. Designers are recording the conflicts like visual reporters. With insightful reconstructions they make abstract wars less abstract and bring events happening in faraway places closer to home.
The work of the Amsterdam designer Ruben Pater is a good example. Today’s wars are usually fought with drones. The operators are thousands of miles away, and when they shoot it’s almost like a video game. Pater produced a long-playing record with the sound of seventeen types of drones on the A side, and on the B side a composition based on penetrating drone noises.
Other designers have also found ways to shed light on the impact of the refugee crisis – for example, a reconstruction of a boat that was at sea for fourteen days with seventy-two refugees on board, nine of whom perished. There is a map showing migrant flows from 1975 onwards. In 2014 the British designer James Bridle flew a military surveillance balloon over South London for four months. No one complained about spying on the public. Bridle’s project graphically illustrates how little resistance many people offer to supervision from above.
The migrant crisis is an urgent issue that was previously addressed in an edition of Design Column. But whereas Migration Matters 1 sought initial solutions, Migration Matters 2 is about setting out the problem.
Every three months, under the banner of Design Column, which started in 2012, we showcase design with a strong link to current events. This is combined with a small focus exhibition in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. A different urgent issue, often attracting widely conflicting opinions, is addressed each time. This thirteenth edition, with eight projects about the value of borders and the far-reaching digitization of wars, will certainly provoke discussion.
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