Coming October 1, 2016

MoMA to open exhibit on refugee displacement

"'Ifo 3', an extension to the world's largest refugee camp complex in Dadaab, Kenya. The camp was created to give shelter and services to the huge influx of refugees to Dadaab refugee camps from Somalia in 2011". (Courtesy Brendan Bannon/IOM/UNHCR)

In Europe, the “refugee crisis” has been a hot-topic for months and conversations about urban habitats through the lens of temporary dwellings like refugee camps are quickly emerging in the Western world.

On October 1 this year, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will open Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter, an exhibition that aims to address the “contemporary notions of shelter, as seen through migration and global refugee emergencies.

Nizip II, container camp (Courtesy Tobias Hutzler, 2014)

Nizip II, container camp (Courtesy Tobias Hutzler, 2014)

Comprising a collection of projects from architects, designers, and artists, the issue of displacement is acknowledged through various mediums, looking at variables that influence refugee environments.

Organized by Sean Anderson, Associate Curator, and Arièle Dionne-Krosnick, Curatorial Assistant, the exhibition also looks at how refugee shelters offer shelter from a critical perspective.

Interior of a Better Shelter prototype in Kawergosk Refugee Camp, Erbil, Iraq. (Courtesy Better Shelter)

Interior of a Better Shelter prototype in Kawergosk Refugee Camp, Erbil, Iraq. (Courtesy Better Shelter)

The United Nations indicates that there are up to 59.5 million people across the globe who are refugees, asylum-seekers, or displaced, with 86 percent of this population being hosted in developing countries, a 16% increase from ten years ago.

Subsequently, “emergency architecture” is establishing itself as a prevalent topic in both the developing and developed world. Alejandro Aravena currently leads the way along with Shigeru Ban who has been dubbed “architecture’s first responder.” Both architects are recent Pritzker Prize winners.



In schools too, the topic is being addressed directly as can be seen at the International University of Catalonia in Barcelona which offers a Masters in “Emergency Architecture” and at the University of Nottingham in the UK where undergraduate’s and Phd students specifically tackle the issue of permanency and growth within likewise environments.

Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter aims to further this and establish a discourse on how safety and shelter are defined within these host environments, while also addressing the issue of permanency surrounding these shelters. Once a temporary place for refuge, many camps are now permanent installations. Such places, as the MoMA says, “have become a locus through which to examine how human rights intersect with and complicate the making of cities.”

Questions such as the definition of shelter and what temporal living means will be raised throughout the exhibition which will include works by Estudio Teddy Cruz, Henk Wildschut, and Tiffany Chung and the IKEA Foundation-UNHCR-Better Shelter modular emergency structureothers that respond to the exhibitions themes.

Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter will close January 22, 2017.

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