The Little Refugee (2017)

125 found figurines, porcelain, clay, plaster, resin
Commissioned by Kunstahalle Osnabrück for the exhibition Çanakkale Art Walk 2017: Homeland, 6 June 2017 – 6 August 2017
Curated by Christian Oxenius
It was aslo presented in Human Condition. In Search of a Place, The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, Moscow, 20 June 2018 — 19 August 2018, Curator: Viktor Misiano, Co-curator: Anna Zhurba

The Little Refugee consists of 125 found children figurines made of porcelain, clay, plaster and resin, sourced from various flea markets and the internet. Forming small family groupings based on height and posture, the disparate figurines are arranged into a straight line reminiscent of a march or a carnival parade. The work takes its name by a marble statuette of a boy with a dog, found in Gerontikon (Nyssa, Asia Minor) that dates back to 1st century B.C. Currently on display at the National Archeological Museum in Athens, the statuette is known as ‘The Little Refugee’ (to prosphyngaki), since according to the museum’s website ‘was brought to Athens by refugees in 1922’ (referencing the disastrous Greek Asia Minor war of 1922 that produced a wave of Greek refugees). Utilizing an ancient artefact as a metaphor (to reference historical conditions of the time of its excavation) points to how archeological objects have been implicated in national narratives but also establishes an analogy between an inanimate object and living humans. Following from this, The Little Refugee salvages an ‘incomplete’ collection of children figurines that cross historical and geographical contexts and moulds them into an ‘inappropriate’ collision of forms. Engaged in a symbolic archaeology, the work gives shape to a new collective body of a frequently voiceless minority and considers the cultural and ideological construction of both childhood and material culture. In Becoming a Refugee, small objects representing children, produced in a variety of styles and which are usually associated with collecting as a cultural pastime, become material evidence of the current historical moment in what is being described as ‘The European Refugee Crisis’.