Pictoplasma Academy alumni 2015 had an exhibition in Berlin Spring 2017. There was about 30 of us exhibition in the same gallery and the exhibition was part of Pictoplasma-festival. My piece was three detailed drawings. It took me maybe 80-90h combined to make them. No sketching, straight to the “treasure map paper”.
My piece is called “Journey”.
These maps are influenced by maps in pop culture. the Secret of Monkey Island, Super Mario Bros 3, Lord of the Rings, scrolling shooters like Commodore 64 -game Commando. I used to draw treasure maps as a child and this is an extended exploration to that subject, with research.
In this triptych I try to put myself in the shoes of people who need to leave their home and start looking for a new start in new environment. And in between those moments go through a journey that no one should have to go through. They travel through unspeakable threats and death, uncertainty, deadly trip overseas, camps and to new cities. Some of the find a new home, some don’t, some need to return to their home country, in the middle of the war.
The three drawings present a happy ending. The family finds a new home in Finland. This is usually not the case.
Old Home (Aleppo)
War. The city that you live in becomes unlovable, bomb after bomb, bullet after bullet, danger after danger. Confidence in people, neighbour, acquaintance: gone. Survival. Loved one gone, maybe not, but you definitely know somebody who has lost one. Some people are being taken away, somewhere, nobody knows where. They are being tortured. People being kept in the dark about what has happened. You might find out years after that the person is dead, has been for years and the ending was horrific.
Are people good or bad. Are people you’ve know all your life still good or are they suddenly the enemy. Are they a suspect? Are the family members about to go and leave you? Is it going to be okay? Is anything going to be okay anymore? Where is my mother, my sister, my father, my brother, my partner?
Do you go or stay? How long can you live in your home, if you stay? The amount of death and destruction one has seen at this point is beyond comprehension. And at the same time as one hears soaring air strikes and bombs going off in the distance, people just try to live their lives, do normal things, go to school, to work, to hobbies. Everything is getting exponentially difficult. And the options are narrowing down.
In the First Picture:
- Destroyed houses have been homes of many. The uppermost floor shape is from Super Mario 3; When you jumped on it, the button released invisible coins. In this picture it relates to the healing powers, peace, quiet of home, a place where you can recharge yourself and be yourself, at ease.
- Mushrooms represent a safe place and the people that help one another.
- Fruit trees and Sunflowers are the nutrition of body and soul. Food, culture, everything that makes people people and peoples peoples. These are the things that are hard to leave behind, and one longs for, even they wouldn’t think so at first.
- Black houses are burnt down lives, families, homes. They’re everywhere.
- Crosses: Well, guess.
- Large and small spikes Pain, suffering, death, misery, blood, bombings, torture. There’s a lot of it.
- Roadblocks In the beginning of the road from the city there are two monster/cloud-looking characters. They represent the doubt and how some people turn: They’ve been one first and then all of a sudden they are something else. They are the enemy and a threat. They are the informer, they might act the same but you might not guess they have turned.
- Gatekeepers Two snowman-looking dudes are the smugglers, or the people that know the people, who take people across the sea to Europe.
After the smugglers have been paid the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean sea begins. Full boats of people. Everyone running for their lives. Black sea in the night. Boats so full that some people fall out. Boat is not going to stop, but is headed for the shore of no return. Shore already full of death.
After the sea; camps. People are put in a tent accommodation. The old life has been left behind. The new life begins in cold and shady position. People cannot really work so they come up with alternative means of making money. And criminals are ready to offer them something to do.
People move from camps to cities. Some have connections, friends, relatives. Some begin their new life with nothing, again. No connections, no place to work, no place to sleep, nothing. Work case scenario: Not even a passport. The jaws of bureacracy chews one in pieces pretty fast. And everything begins to shift into absurd nothingness. People are but a number. One’s identity is stripped away and is put into an abstract compartment, a name on a list. People are being watched, observed. The people that have lost their homes are looking from the outside in. Cities continue living and turning their big wheels, but now there are a group of people that should be integrated into that society, but have no connections.
Inside the city
Everything moves into senseless fight about existence and humanity. Some find help. Some are floating in day to day nothingness, trying to hang on old habits, friendships, relationships by keeping contact with people that were left behind, either on camps or home city. Deaths of people one knew or didn’t wiped off of their minds, trying hard to continue daily lives, while bureaucracy kicks in the second gear.
Some people help, some are against refugees. Some want to get rid of the people coming in. Some judge from their high towers and shielded lives, with no knowledge, driven by fear. Some want to be mislead. Some want to close their eyes. Clusters of people that want to make the world better for everyone.
Someone in the new possible home country decides who stays and who goes. They make the final decision. Sometimes they decide to return people to countries that are dangerous. Sometimes not. Families are torn apart. Some have happy endings, some not.