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Imagined Places

Mapping Journey by Bouchra Khalili

Mapping Journey by Bouchra Khalili

This is the last week to visit Imagined Places, a temporary exhibition at the Tropenmuseum Amsterdam (until april 14th).

In Imagined Places five artists portray a world where people are constantly on the move in search of a better life or a new home. They leave a country behind them but also take it with them in their memories. So the lives of all these people on the move are determined by their bond with several places. Official migration policy is based on country borders, national identity and a fixed place where someone actually belongs. Their lives are spent, however, between different lifeworlds: the here and now of where they are, the country they came from, and the place they are going to or would like to return to. All these places are real but they also exist as inner worlds: in memories, fantasies and yearnings. The artworks in Imagined Places depict these inner worlds that are sometimes at odds with reality. 

One series of videos I found particularly interesting was ‘The mapping journey’ by Bouchra Khalili in which immigrants that moved to Europe marked their journey there as they told stories of the several places they had crossed. It was harsh to see how often these trips involved periods in detention centres, life-taking boat trips, illegal jobs, extortionists etc. Liquid life is quite a different thing to those born on the other side of the European border, and this work sheds a different light on the correlation between freedom and insecurity.

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