“But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise” Exhibition Theme: Migration

♪ Migration is a huge issue at the moment, a parliamentary issue at government level, but also a daily issue that is affecting the lives of not just those who are having to undergo treacherous journeys, but also those of the countries that are taking in young men and women and families. Although I haven’t created an obvious link to what is happening within the region, and how it’s affecting other parts of the world, it is present. In this exhibition, I explored ideas around migration, the movement of ideas, the movement of people, and how one surfs over the other, particularly in relation to civil liberties. I’m very much interested in the work of Walter Benjamin, particularly his personal journey, not just his philosophical writings. Fewer than a hundred years ago, he made a treacherous journey to try to flee the Nazi occupation of France. He made this journey on foot and with other means of transportation, trying to travel between France and Spain with the desire to move on to Portugal to make it on to the US. Unfortunately, he never made it that far. When he tried to come, Spanish authorities actually informed him that visas would be denied, and he subsequently committed suicide. Anybody who was trying to escape Nazi Germany was known as an evader. This is the subject of the work of Ori Gersht, a London-based video artist, photographer, and professor. His video, “Evaders” loosely and semi-fictitiously explores Walter Benjamin’s last days. Ori retraces the journey that Walter Benjamin took through the Pyrenees. It was a very physical journey through the elements, through extremely difficult weather conditions. But it’s also a reminder to us of our contemporary history, how people are fleeing, maybe from a different direction, on a different route, but still making very treacherous journeys to escape.

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