'Art offers a poetic way of looking at something so horrid'

Artist Indrė Šerpytytė's new work for IWM, Constellations, represents various refugee journeys across the Mediterranean in abstract neon lights. The collections of lines and circles denote the stops and starts of individual refugee's journeys, but also allude to a universal language of astronomy.

Each route is taken from Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boata research project led by Professor Vicki Squite with colleagues at the University of Warwick and University of Malta and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Digital technology has changed the way we travel and communicate, but the stars remain a key navigation tool on refugee journeys. In 2016, a CNN report recorded a smuggler telling refugees, “See those stars. They mean North. Follow them.” For Šerpytytė, the stars represent both a practical tool and a symbol of hope.

Constellations was on display at IWM London as part of Refugees: Forced to Flee.


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