Athens Exhibitions: "Face Forward ...into my Home" at EMST
It is the stories of people that give us a short, yet comprehensive glimpse into their lives. And like any story, someone must narrate it; and this is what “Face Forward …into my home” does. Through an interactive art project, creating a kind of genuine contemporary realism in the way it is constructed, hosted by the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in Athens, you can witness the stories of people who were forced to “reset” and rebuild their lives in search of a new homeland and a better life in Greece.
What is “Face Forward ...into my home”?
As part of the ESTIA (Emergency Support To Integration and Accommodation) program, which helps refugees and asylum-seekers to find a new “home” in Greece by providing urban accommodation and monthly cash support, the project aims to introduce the public to the truth of the Greek refugee crisis.
The project’s tri-dimensional layout wants to lead people visiting the exhibition to get to know those who were forced to flee their homes, seeking now a normal life, away from the difficulties and dangerous living conditions of their home countries. The Face Forward project is the means that turns the numbers of the refugee crisis into faces of people who might have suffered losses, who must leave their past behind and who look for security in their new life somewhere and somehow in a city of diversity.
Through storytelling workshops, photographic portraits and their exhibition, along with the personal narratives collected during the workshops, you get to meet the persons depicted and share their feelings, anxieties, inspirations, memories and hopes, all of which are determined in search of a new “home”.
You can listen to the stories of the faces captured in an instant by the photographic lens, which are characterized by different national or ethnic origins, religions, age, family status, gender, and sexual orientation, and each face has a different story to tell. They talk about their experiences and, most importantly, about their hopes and dreams, about struggles before and after coming to Greece, about views and emotions that they’d wish to share with every other human being around them (in English, Greek and their mother tongue).
Each story has its own unique nature, each one expressing the voice of the person narrating it. However, the more you listen and observe, the more you understand that all of them have similarities, which exceed any differences existing between them. You embark on a new journey to discover the true person hiding behind a façade and to decipher, and perhaps identify with their agony, concerns, way of thinking and feelings through an “one-way discussion”, where you function as a silent and dedicated listener at the other end.
Didem from Turkey talks about her feelings after visiting the exhibition: "There is always a better image that we dream for ourselves and carry it with us. We always forget that we might face the worse scenario. The exhibition lets us take a closer look to forced lives longing for a deeper change. When you leave your comfort zone, trying to survive in another country with different conditions, you feel vulnerable. You have the fear of failing to survive or build a new life. We, humans. need homes to feel ‘safe’. I don't want to imagine how it feels like to travel in order to find a place to start your new life, not by desire but due to war".
Where and when?
The project is already open to the public, free of charge, until 18 February 2018 and from Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 7 pm at the EMST (National Museum of Contemporary Art). It is funded by the European Commission and was designed and implemented in collaboration with ESTIA and the UN Refugee Agency.