Disappearance at Sea - Mare Nostrum Review

Renee Mayor gives us her opinion on the Disappearance at Sea exhibition at the BALTIC.

13th February 2017
http://www.balticmill.com/whats-on/disappearance-at-sea-mare-nostrum Wolfgang Tillmans, Italian Costal Guard Flying Rescue Mission off Lampedusa, 2008. Image Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Disappearance at sea- Mare Nostrum (our sea in Latin) at the BALTIC is the most thought provoking and relevant exhibition I have seen in a long time. It really does move all of your deepest emotions; empathy, hate and anger.

The exhibition is on the ground floor, and although it is only three rooms it really does make an impact, especially in light of current affairs. The exhibition confronts viewers of the journeys undertaken by migrants and refugees across the Mediterranean Sea. Mare Nostrum is interactive, making viewers actively think about what migration would be like for themselves and the difficulties they would have to face. Both the mixed mediums of artwork and the different artists raise awareness of how this problem is a global problem not something that we as world citizens can turn our head away from.

Disappearance at sea, contrary to widespread and highly politicised commentary in the media, shows how the refugees from the Middle East are not moving to the UK or countries in Northern Europe. In contrary Syrian migrants are moving to neighbouring Jordan and Turkey, in order to seek refuge and safety there. The exhibition highlights that this is the biggest exodus of people in our lifetime, and that whether we offer help or not, they are still going to migrate away. It suggests that by helping we are making the journey both safer and easier for these people to do.

Demanding that we should not watch passively, as so many of us our doing, due to the desensitisation of the media numbers and reports. In the words of Stalin “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic” but by making the exhibition so personal we cannot ignore that these are real people’s lives.

Amnesty International has an interactive desk that allows viewers to sign campaigns to raise awareness and to encourage our governments to believe that it is their responsibility.

Renee Mayor

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