Expressive Art Exhibition – Integr’Art

Expressive Art Exhibition – Integr’Art

Resilience, Integration and Advocacy through Art – Expressive Art Exhibition Project

Manolis Anagnostakis Room, City Hall of Thessaloniki (July 24-27)

Open Hours: July 24 18.00-20.00, July 25 10.00-13.00, 18.00-20.00, July 26 10.00-13.00, 18.00-20.00, July 27 10.00-13.00

Samia Lyamouri, Médecins du Monde Switzerland/Greece, Sarah Neusy, Médecins du Monde, Corina Kanistra, Médecins du Monde, Aliki Panagiotidou, Médecins du monde, Maritina Papamitrou, Co-ordinator of Médecins du Monde Greece

Art as an active and resilient response to integration of refugees and host society  in the Greek context

The Expressive Art Exhibition is the reflection of a six months creative journey undergone by 40 artists from Greece, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Eritrea, Bulgaria and Iraq in Northern Greece.  Initiated in the context of psychosocial interventions of Médecins du Monde Greece/Switzerland, this project focuses on revealing the process through which art becomes a key mean and opportunity for the development of intercultural dialogue, of cooperation and integration.

In the past years in Northern Greece, refugees had to face challenges of great complexities, involving sparse living conditions, cumulative trauma situations combined to the uncertainty regarding their future and the urge to integrate in new socio-cultural and labour contexts.

Médecins du Monde Team, who has been active in the camps of Northern Greece met a great number of children, women, men, young adults who, by passion, choice, sometimes by despair or to fill in the gap of long months of inactivity due to their situation, have appealed to different art forms to face the adversity that meets them every day.

“Art is inseparable from justice at last…. It becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring guts, and honor”,  John Berger (Minors)

 

Having found their own ways to face adversity through art, this project aimed in a first place to valorise, build awareness and support the initiative of these artists regarding their coping strategies, promoting art as a mean of resilience and inviting them to communicate to the public in their own voice through art. Artists were invited to participate to intensive workshops, in which they conceptualized, designed and shaped their first exhibition “Pain & Hope” in Thessaloniki.  

As the camp response turned into an urban response, two further exhibitions took place in July 2017 and September 2017. « The Art of the Other” and « Seeds of Unity » articulated a logical evolution of this project, creating bridges between the communities and addressing one of the biggest opportunities for all of us today: the integration process – integration understood as a co-constructed and dynamic process between immigrants and their host society.  Therefore, artists presently refugees in Greece and local artists came together to work on a common exhibition, encouraging the exploration and expression of identities, challenging discrimination and social exclusion, and promoting intercultural dialogue and creativity through workshops and trainings.  

Together, the artists chose to explore concepts linked to the intrinsic human condition, sharing the capacities of creating, of communicating with a look, a gesture, a word or a path. Searching for ways to unify the subjective expression of each artist into a harmonious whole, they integrated abstract, classical, realistic approaches and different intensities of colours, of textures, of shape as expressions of visions, emotions and ideas; pushing their own limits to expand possibilities, visions and perceptions.

As a result of the process, various projects emerged as independent collaborations between the participant artists (Documentary project, art classes provided in different structures), created concrete work and training opportunities and built strong relationship and a powerful network for the artists in Greece.  The project was invited to festivals and art galleries throughout Europe and the USA, communicating the message of the artists, sensitizing on the present situation in Northern Greece and promoting art as a powerful mean of resilience, positive integration and social cohesion.

Today, the exhibition is an itinerant and independent exhibition which aims to create a network of artists throughout Europe, opening spaces of direct contact, dialogue and exchange between European artists and new comers, kindling social, economic and cultural impact enhancing a the development of an integrated society.  The Integr’Art EAE team seeks for new collaboration with cultural, art and social institutions, desiring to trigger and support innovative and creative actions to address social challenges.

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