I am thrilled to share that on Friday 1 April a new installation by artist Juan delGado will premiere at Watermans arts centre in West London. I have been working with Juan to develop and finance this project for more than a year, and am so pleased that we were able to produce the work with support from Arts Council England, Embassy of Spain in the UK, and our partner venues: Watermans, New Art Exchange and Attenborough Arts Centre.
Altered Landscapes is a project that has evolved from a body of work that Juan has produced over the past 13 years that considers how to give a voice to the voiceless, to the displaced people that Juan has encountered in various locations – Spain, Colombia, Palestine, Turkey, Greece and the UK – and that have inspired his artworks.
With this latest work, Juan has travelled the routes that Syrian refugees have themselves travelled across Greece to mainland Europe, and has filmed at key locations in Athens, Macedonia, Calais, where the traces of people’s movement can be found in the landscapes – the dropped blanket, the shoe dangling from the barbed wire fence. He has spoken with refugees, locals, people smugglers and border police, to build an extensive understanding of the environment and the state of mind of the people passing through.
The work responds to the migration crisis we are facing in Europe by asking the viewer to see the landscape through the eyes of the refugee making the dangerous crossing; to hear the everyday stories of Syrians from their memories of the ordinary lives they once had; and to muse from the perspective of a European who is suffering a malady brought on by this traumatic situation he finds himself facing.
The exhibition runs from 1 April to 5 June, and is accessible to those with hearing impairments, visual impairments, physical impairments and learning difficulties. Alongside the exhibition Juan delGado will be running a series of workshops with a collective of migrant artists, the Paper Project, and on Saturday 21 May there will be a symposium at Watermans with speakers from key organisations that engage with cultural projects that explore the stories of displaced people – Culture + Conflict, Counterpoint Arts, and Amnesty International (more details coming soon).
Altered Landscapes is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. delGado has been awarded an INSIDE commission from New Art Exchange and DASH. INSIDE is a Disability Arts commissioning programme led by DASH with funding from Arts Council England.