By Rubab Paracha, Bauhaus University, Weimar
Fließende Grenzen (Flowing Borders) is an ongoing project consisting of a series of posters that use cartographic imagery to depict refugee related data, primarily in Pakistan. And, adopting the Truck Art aesthetic, attempts to bring art works in the public realm.
With the recent media explosion regarding Syrian refugees arriving into Germany I intend to shed light on a similar situation in Pakistan which has hosted over three million refugees at a given time over a duration of 30 years.
This series has been on display since 1st November 2015 in Weimar, Germany
This project emerged from the need to understand historic and current events relating to socio-political representability and how to display these through an artistic interpretation. The main strategies include obtaining data through organisations involved in documenting and facilitating movement and augmentation of refugees in various capacities.
A refugee crisis transpiring in a developing country struggling to provide basic infrastructure to existing over-populated cities can cause serious difficulties – the added influx of people can lead to further depletion of resources and sometimes a failure of overall legal and economic systems.
My artistic works through their ambivalent nature represent the cogitation process as a result of data and information acquired. Dot, line, shape. The gradual progression of these creates multi-layered patterns to translate the points of admittance, the interstitial spaces, the flow of movement within the geographical boundaries of the country and human connections that forgo the borders placed by man.
Inspired by cartographic maps, my work depicts not only the place but also the people: a map elucidating the presence of refugees. The aesthetics and structure of my work are a representation of the vehicles and transport system that not only facilitated refugees, migrants and internally displaced people through the landscape, but also became an icon for the country whilst providing a source of income and livelihood for the masses.
A vibrant pastiche of imagery of the people, places, and through a vernacular form of art that is as relevant today as it was at its point of inception – I use Truck Art aesthetic to graphically depict the movement of people and refugees and migrants from Afghanistan to Pakistan and their dispersal through the country as well as temporary points of rest. The strong colourful visuals which were used to attract customers and other truck drivers from afar were used to attract viewers to come closer and take a look at maps that address the current global issue of refugees
The narrative as a whole depicts my personal dilemma and how my mind rationalizes and understands these occurrences and stories, data, experience, and translates them into visual narratives in relation to people. A third world country burdened beyond measure with additional lives that fled for survival, while the first world complains about integration and sustainability. The question remains what’s more important, political structure or humanity?
Thank you to the team of ‘Phool Patti’ for allowing me to integrate some of their Street art imagery into my work.
Pakistan. Rivers and Floods. The areas in close proximity to the rivers are the ones most devastated by flooding each year, causing thousands of refugees and locals to be internally displaced within the country.
Pakistan. UNHCR refugee camps. The area around the city of Peshawar is pixelated with refugee camps set up by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and other local agencies. Some of these camps have been around for 30 years.
Pakistan. High and low density refugee population regions in relation and proximity to the rivers.
Pakistan. Urban Centers – Truck Routes. The movement of refugees from the two major cities in Afghanistan, Kabul and Kandahar towards the city of Peshawar and Quetta in Pakistan via the main truck routes. These truck routes pass through every major city in Pakistan and are used to transport people and goods. NATO also uses these very routes to send supplies to the armed forces they have placed in Afghanistan.
Germany – Pakistan. High density areas for refugees and migrants in Pakistan and Germany.